Pop stars such as Madonna and Mariah Carey might still be able to make millions of pounds from going out on tour.
But their advancing years may cause them to struggle with high notes they once hit with ease, scientists have found.
Researchers observed the differences between younger and older vocalists.
They discovered a previously overlooked part of the throat cartilage – the thyroid cartilage – became stiffer and bonier with age.
Just as with a musical instrument, to create a higher pitch sound, you need a narrower pipe. But as the thyroid becomes more rigid, this makes it harder for singers to reduce the diameter of their vocal tract.
They are therefore forced to strain, sometimes to a painful degree, to get the sounds that were so easy when they were young.
Writing in the Journal of Voice, the authors, led by Claudio Storck of the University of Basel, said: ‘The [older] singer has to compensate by using other muscular techniques when singing at high pitches, which can lead to uncomfortable sensations in the throat.’
– Daily Mail