Ah, how we all laughed at mad old Arnie! Mr Schoenberg, who was born on the 13th and feared the number all his life (Twelve tones? That’ll do nicely…), of course died on the 13th, just when he thought his illness had passed. And now the epidemiologists (c/o Bristol-Myers Squibb (Taiwan) Ltd) seem to be saying that you can talk yourself to death, particularly if you speak certain languages:

Being superstitious may be bad for your health. Chinese and Japanese Americans with heart disease appear to be at greater risk of dying of a heart attack on the 4th day of the month, a number that is deemed “unlucky” in China and Japan. Researchers say the findings “are consistent with the hypothesis that cardiac mortality increases on psychologically stressful occasions.”

In the study, researchers examined the death certificates of more than 200,000 Chinese and Japanese Americans and more than 47 million white Americans. The death certificates contained cause of death information and whether or not the person suffered chronic heart disease. On the fourth day of the month, cardiac deaths were significantly more frequent than on any other day of the month for Japanese and Chinese Americans.” The word “four” sounds very similar to the word “death” in the Japanese and Chinese languages.

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