Researchers who studied more than two million people over 40 years found a rise in deaths from heart attacks, strokes, falls and suicides.
William Shakespeare died on his birthday on April 23 1616. The actress Ingrid Bergman also died on her birthday, in August 1982.
On average, people over the age of 60 were 14 per cent more likely to die on their birthdays.
Heart attacks rose 18.6 per cent on birthdays and were higher for men and women while strokes were up 21.5 per cent - mostly in women.
Dr Vladeta Ajdacic-Gross of the University of Zurich, said: 'Birthdays end lethally more frequently than might be expected.' He added that risk of birthday death rose as people got older.
Canadian data also showed that strokes were more likely on birthdays, especially among patients with high blood pressure.
There was a 34.9 per cent rise in suicides, 28.5 per cent rise in accidental deaths not related to cars, and a 44 per cent rise in deaths from falls on birthdays.
Psychologist prof Richard Wiseman, from the University of Hertfordshire, said: "It seems to be a valid finding.
"There are two camps - one is the camp that suggests you eat too much and your getting on a bit and that causes you to die.
"The other is a placebo effect. You are knife-edged on death. And you kept yourself going until your birthday. You think 'that's it I've had enough I'm out of here'."
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