Chris Benoit's murder-suicide last June spotlighted the disproportionate number of early deaths among professional wrestlers; one activist has counted more than 60 dead before reaching 50 over the past 10 years. And a taxing, drug-addled lifestyle plays a big role.
The tough wrestling circuit is a breeding ground for hard drugs, the Washington Post reports. And despite denials from the WWE, steroids play a role in building the cartoon physiques now typical for wrestlers—and are linked to the heart issues that hasten the attraction's sleeper hold. Were this the NFL, one observer says, "someone would be asking some serious questions. Something would be done."