Study: Oscar Winners Live Longer

ByABC News
May 14, 2001, 2:32 PM

May 14 -- Katharine Hepburn, 94, remarked once that she is revered internationally "like an old building."

But her longevity may be due to the four Oscars she racked up in her movie career.

A new study published in Tuesday's Annals of Internal Medicine finds that actors who have won Oscars live almost four years longer than actors who haven't won the coveted Academy Award. And actors who have won multiple times live up to six years longer than those who have been nominated and never won.

"We found that they died from the same things we all die from cancer, heart disease, strokes but they fought them a bit longer or their onset came a bit later," said lead author of the study, Dr. Donald Redelmeier, director of clinical epidemiology at Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Center in Toronto and professor of medicine at the University of Toronto.

Always Ready for the Closeup

Sally Field, for example, will live four years longer than her acting peers who didn't get an Academy Award because when it comes down to it, it just means we like her and she is happy that we like her and lives a healthier life because of it, according to the study.

No one can take that kind of accomplishment away and that kind of satisfaction is so rich for one's soul that it makes them resilient longer, Redelmeier says.

"The lives of stars and successful people ARE filled with exercise, eating right and sleeping properly," Redelmeier said. "All of these aspects might have greater benefits than we have recognized." Self-Esteem Important for the Rest of Us

"We are not saying that you will live longer if you win an Academy Award," said Redelmeier. "Or that people should go out and take acting courses. Our main conclusion is simply that social factors are important."

It also suggests that doctors should inquire more about patients' personal feelings and feelings of accomplishments and failures.

"It suggests that an internal sense of self-esteem is an important aspect to health and health care," he said.