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Drugs and Suicide: White American’s Life Expectancy Declined Specially Among Women

Update Date: Apr 21, 2016 06:13 AM EDT
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White American's life expectancy has slightly declined in 2014, according to the new federal data. More younger and middle-age whites are dying due to drug related causes and suicide and this is lowering the average life spans for the white American population as a whole.

The new federal data that was taken from the deaths that have been recorded in the United States in 2014 showed that the white American life expectancy had dropped to 78.8 years in 2014 from 78.9 in 2013, New York Times reported.

Although the decline on life expectancy was seen on both men and women, the decline on women is more remarkable. White women's life expectancy fell from 81.2 in 2013 to 81.1 in 2014. Men's life span fell as well but not enough to go below 76.5 years, which is their life expectancy since 2013.

"The increase in death in this segment of the population was great enough to affect life expectancy at birth for the whole group," said Elizabeth Arias, the statistician at the National Center for Health Statistics who analyzed the data. She was referring to whites from their mid-20s to their mid-50s. "That is very unusual."

Research shows that drug overdoses, diseases related to heavy drinking and smoking and suicide are the main causes of unprecedented numbers of deaths among white Americans, particularly women in mid-life, as reported by Washington Post.

"Taken by itself, it could just be a random fluctuation from one year to the next," said Arias. However, the data also showed that Americans as a whole have lost momentum regarding to greater longevity. The life expectancy at birth remained the same for the country since 2010.

"Despite the positive influences of declines in heart disease and cancer and stroke, increases in other causes like suicide, chronic liver disease and unintentional poisonings were so large that they had a negative effect on life expectancy," she said.

Princeton economists Angus Deaton and Anne Case released a report last November that says the death rates for white men and women ages 45 to 54 remarkably jumped between 1999 and 2013.

Earlier this month, another analysis of death records has been published saying that the most noticeable increase in mortality has been among white women from ages 25 to 54 in small towns, small cities and most of the rural parts of the country.

"We continue to deviate from what these other high-income countries are doing, especially among women," Urban Institute researcher Laudy Aron said. "Equally important will be what happens next year and the year after, and seeing if we are on some kind of new trend line."

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