The researchers analysed data on the deaths of some 2.4 million people over 40 years to find that we are 13.8 percent more likely to die on our birthday, UK newspaper The Independent reported.
The authors of the study, led by Dr. Vladeta Ajdacic-Gross from the University of Zurich, found that many deaths on birthdays were caused by strokes, cancer, falls, heart attacks and suicides, leading to the conclusion that the stress of birthdays plays a significant part in many deaths.
The risk of dying on a birthday was found to increase to an 18-percent likelihood for the over-60s. The chance of dying from a cardio-vascular condition such as heart attack increased to 18.6 percent, with an increase of 21.5 percent for death from a stroke.
The risk of suicide on a birthday was significant only for men, whose chances of dying this way increased by 34.9 percent.
“The authors suggest that this increase could be related to more alcohol being drunk on birthdays. But perhaps men are more likely to make a statement about their unhappiness when they think people will be taking more notice of them,” Dr. Lewis Halsey from the University of Roehampton told the newspaper.
He also suggested that women might not opt for suicide on their birthdays out of a sense that it would be unfair to put those celebrating with them through such an ordeal.
The number of fatal falls also increased by 44 percent on birthdays, with significant increases in instances from about four days prior to the event.
One theory suggests that sick elderly people try to hold on to reach one last milestone before giving up, but the researchers’ evidence suggested that it was in fact the stress of the event itself that caused the deaths. In particular, the researchers found that older people suffer from more acute stress around their birthdays.