A proportional mortality study of the acting profession

Am J Ind Med. 1985;8(1):57-66. doi: 10.1002/ajim.4700080108.


Proportional mortality of actors and actresses was studied because cancers of many sites have been linked to hair dyes and cosmetics of which actors have been frequent users. Death records (1950-1978) for 2,618 white male and 838 white female members of Actors Equity and the Screen Actors Guild were compared with the U.S. mortality rats. Among males, significantly elevated proportional mortality ratios (PMR) were found for suicide (1.58), cirrhosis of the liver (1.99), all malignancies (1.15), and cancers of the colon/rectum (1.32), pancreas (1.51), and testes (2.37). Colon/rectum and pancreas cancers were not significantly elevated by proportional cancer mortality. Among females, significantly elevated PMRs were found for suicide (2.02) and lung cancer (2.20). Suicide in either sex was much more common in California than in New York. The elevated lung cancer in females was confined to Equity members. No elevations were found for cancers that have been related to hair dye or cosmetic use--ie, breast, ovary, bladder, leukemia, and lymphomas.

MeSH terms

  • Cosmetics / adverse effects
  • Drama
  • Female
  • Hair Preparations / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Occupational Diseases / mortality*
  • Smoking
  • Suicide / epidemiology


  • Cosmetics
  • Hair Preparations