Be careful blowing out those birthday candles

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Bearing in mind I’m Pisces it’s probably a bit early to announce I won’t be doing anything special for my birthday next February – and probably for some years to come.

It’s not that I’m being any more unsociable than usual. It’s more a case that – according to new research based on a study of more than two million people (and that’s a lot) over a 40 year period – we are more than 14 per cent more likely to die on our birthday than any other time of the year.

It’s all a case of what “experts” label “anniversary reaction hypothesis” or what the rest of us have known for some time as “birthday blues.”

Causes of birthday death include heart attacks, stroke, cancer, falls and suicide – so pretty much like your average day except a lot more of more of it.

To make matters worse, the risk increases with age – we over 60s being 18 per cent more likely not to manage to blow out all our candles before shuffling off this mortal coil and leaving half our cards unopened.

Needless to say, no one is entirely sure why the figures spike so much at a time when we should be having fun – though a “postponement theory” suggests seriously ill people can somehow hold on until their birthday as they try and reach the milestone date.

The again the 34.9 per cent rise in suicides for men implies birthdays aren’t perhaps quite the jolly occasion we’re supposed to think them to be.

As for the 28.5 per cent increase in accidental deaths (including a massive 44 per cent jump in fatal falls) it leads one to assume that the rest of us are probably having too much fun on our once a year day to worry about such health and safety issues as survival.

Stress? Yes, admissions for cardiovascular conditions occur more frequently on birthdays too as we stress about whether anyone is coming to the party.

As usual the figures relate more to men than women – particularly the suicide figures.

It’s not so much that we get upset if we don’t receive our favourite brand of aftershave, it’s more that we either realise not many people like us after all or that we want those who do to take more notice of us.

There’s also the theory that women are more likely to feel that it’s unfair on others who might be celebrating with them to put them through dealing with their death. Yeah right.

But if it’s yours this week – have a good one.