December 20th, 2011
06:31 PM ET
Amy Winehouse, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Kurt Cobain are only a handful of well-known musicians who died at the age of 27.
Were these deaths at age 27 just a freaky coincidence or something more? A group of scientists decided to investigate.
The results of their study were published in the BMJ. The researchers found the deaths have nothing to do with age, but more to do with fame. After all, the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle is one that is often associated with unhealthy influences like booze and drugs.
Every year around Christmas time, the BMJ publishes various quirky studies, but the articles have been through the journal's peer review process. The author, Adrian Barnett, said he conducted the study and that the data had been validated during the review process.
Although fame may increase the risk of death among musicians, this risk is not limited to age 27, according to the authors, led by Barnett from Queensland University of Technology in Australia.
Using mathematical analysis, the authors discovered that the 10 years between the 20s and 30s are dangerous for musicians. They were almost three times more likely to die compared with the general United Kingdom population. The data showed no peak in the risk of death at age 27.
The authors concluded that the “27 club” is quite an unusual phenomenon but one that is unlikely to be real, although this particular age brought death for several music icons such as Winehouse, founding member of the Rolling Stones Brian Jones, and blues musician Robert Johnson. While these deaths have spooked fans worldwide, the study authors write that the lifestyle of these celebrities created risks that reached a peak at age 27 and resulted in death.
Researchers say the “27 club” is a myth and the young rock stars who passed away three years short of their 30th birthday probably participated in excess drinking and psychedelic drugs that increased the risk of an accident or overdose.
Investigations back this up in many cases. An inquest found that Winehouse died from excessive consumption of alcohol. Final reports attributed Joplin’s death to acute heroin and morphine intoxication.
Another hypothesis from the article suggests the “27 club” lures musicians who want to become more famous - whether consciously or subconsciously - and take greater risks at this age, perhaps even committing suicide.
The study concluded that death was a result of the greater risks of fame during the young adult years.
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.