And the winner is . . . enjoy a longer life!
Actors who win an Oscar are more likely to live longer than their unnominated co-stars, according to a new peer-reviewed study published in the Public Library of Science journal PLOS One.
Researchers from the University of Toronto created a model based on 2,111 actors from 1929-2020 who were nominated for the prestigious Oscar or who appeared alongside a nominated actor.
According to the data, actors who win an Oscar are more likely to live to around 81, while those who are only nominated — or not nominated at all — are likely to live to around 76.
“Academy award-winning actors and actresses demonstrate a positive association between success and survival, suggesting the importance of behavioral, psychological, or other modifiable health determinants unrelated to poverty,” said study lead author Donald Redelmeier.
The life expectancy of an Oscar winner has been a subject of debate for more than a decade, after a 2006 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that winners actually live four years longer than their overlooked peers.
An example of the selection process in the New Study was Meryl “Queen of the Oscars” Streep, 72, who starred in and was nominated for the 1987 film Ironweed. However, four other female actors in the same film were not nominated – including the late Margaret Whitton, who died in 2016 at the age of 67.
Of the 2,111 actors examined, 1,122 had died as of July 1, 2020. The researchers acknowledged in the study that life expectancy and living conditions had changed dramatically since the award was first presented in 1929.
“The analysis replicated previous findings from decades ago, showed a larger difference in life expectancy than originally reported, and suggested that the increased survival extends to analyzes limited to winners and nominees,” wrote Redelmeier and co-researcher Sheldon M Singh.
“‘The increase in life expectancy has been greater for individuals who have won at a younger age and with multiple wins in recent years.’
There’s no official reason for the difference in longevity, but the study’s researchers have several theories.
“Winners tend to eat right, exercise regularly, get regular sleep, avoid substance abuse, and follow prudent lifestyle ideals that yield more gains when adhered to,” the study found.
Other researchers believe there is a psychological component involved.
“Oscar winners may be able to avoid some stress with more control and less hassle when they hit an obstacle,” they wrote. “The award in particular could mitigate a humiliating rejection or offensive criticism by maintaining peace of mind and helping to cushion the stress responses of the hypothalamus and pituitary.”
The researchers also noted that they will continue to investigate the matter and hope their findings will help solve the mystery so everyone can enjoy longer lives.