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David Daza

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Verónica Toro

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Mariana Villamizar

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If you win a Nobel, you may die from cancer

May 04, 2017

Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson and Frank Sinatra all died from a heart failure. They all had won a Grammy. Simple coincidence?

The first drops of spring rain in April fell while thousands said goodbye to Gabriel García Márquez in Mexico. The Colombian Literature Nobel, world renowned for his work A Hundred Years of Solitude, had lost the battle against cancer after more than 15 years of struggle.


His body, cremated, was veiled in the Palace of Fine Arts, accompanied by personalities of all kinds and hundreds of yellow butterflies. Like García Márquez, another 40 Nobel prizes have died due to cancer, among them Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral.


Although there is no correlation between winning a prize and a cause of death, it is true that when we analyze the 23 causes of death of Nobel Prize winners, Grammy and Oscar, it is clear that there are similarities between the reasons that ended with their lives.



So, if you win an Oscar, you could die of cancer. If singing is your thing and you won a Grammy, it is more likely that your cause of death is a heart attack. You could have a similar ending if you have made contributions unequaled to humanity and have been awarded a Nobel.


If we analyze the causes of death between singers and actors, it is evident that it is heart failures that make them say farewell to the stage. Such has been the fate of characters like Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson or Whitney Houston.


Of the 23 causes of death explored, the most commons are cancer and accidents. The type of cancer that most lives has taken is leukemia, followed by the lung cancer.


If we analyze the causes of death by prize, we see that the majority of Nobel prizes die due to heart attacks, Alzheimer's or accidents. Nobel laureates in Chemistry and Physics have mostly died from complicated diseases or cancer, while Nobel laureates in Medicine have died from natural causes.


Perhaps the most surprising death today is the Nobel Prize in Chemistry Eduard Buchner. He was the only one to have died while serving his country in the First World War. It is also striking that those who choose suicide are the Nobel Prize winners. Of the 589 winners, seven decided to take their own lives. Their work fields? Literature and Chemistry.


Also controversial is the death of Christian de Duve in 2013. The Nobel Prize in Medicine has been the only one to ask for euthanasia after seeing how his body weakened at the expense of his age.


Also, it is worth noting that among the winners analyzed, three have been killed: Martin Luther King, Nobel Peace Prize; Actor Ernest Borgnine and singer John Lenon.



Data team