When Friday the 13th comes around tales of its unluckiness pervade the workplace, school, home and anywhere someone feels like warning others that doom is pending.
But as a doctor, I have yet to find scientific evidence that a certain day of the week landing on the number “13” would incite Armageddon.
Its roots have been hypothesized to come from Jesus’ last supper, in which he had 12 apostles at his dinner table, with Judas being the 13th member to arrive. And when Jesus was crucified on a Friday, both “Friday” and “13” have since inspired negative emotions.
The “fear” aspect to “Friday the 13th” might have originated centuries ago but most notoriously was dramatized by the movies starring Jason, a mass murderer. Hence today we have the notion that Friday the 13th will bring bad luck in any way, shape or form.
So the question lies, is this day attributed to health risks?
Well in 1993, Scanlon et al looked at car accidents in the UK that occurred on Friday the 6th vs Friday the 13th and found despite less cars on the road, hospital admissions for accidents were significantly higher on the latter day. They concluded: Friday 13th is unlucky for some. The risk of hospital admission as a result of a transport accident may be increased by as much as 52%. Staying at home is recommended.
Then a study done in Finland in 2002 found women to be more at risk than men on Friday the 13th when it came to traffic accidents. They state:
An estimated 38% of traffic deaths involving women on this day were attributable to Friday the 13th itself.
Friday the 13th may be a dangerous day for women, largely because of anxiety from superstition. The risk of traffic deaths on this date could be reduced by one-third, although the absolute gain would remain very small: only one death per 5 million person-days.
However Dr. Bruce Lo from Eastern Virginia Medical School and colleagues looked to dispel the myth of Friday the 13th health risks and found the date did not make a difference when it came to multiple different medical conditions, with the one exception of “penetrating trauma.”
So my opinion…..superstition breeds anxiety and anxiety breeds accidents. Chilling when it comes to the odd number Friday would probably be what this doctor orders.
Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.