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Study Finds Certain U.S. Women Are Dying Early

Update Date: Mar 05, 2013 09:45 AM EST

Despite nationwide statistics showing a steady increase in life expectancy, some women are dying prematurely in certain United States' counties, a new study reports. The study was published in the journal, Health Affairs and it reaffirmed older studies revealing the same trend of lower life expectancies for a select group of women, the "disadvantaged" white women. The researchers of the study like those before them, have not found the reasons behind this trend.

The researchers, David Kindig and Erika Cheng from the University of Wisconsin, analyzed the numbers from the federal death mortality rates of about 3,141 counties throughout the span of 10 years. They recorded the number of "premature death mortality rates," deaths that could have been preventable. The researchers found that the nationwide number was generally better with the number of deaths per 100,000 women lowering from 324 to 318. The number in 1,344 select counties showed the reversed trend with the total number of premature deaths rising from 317 to 333 per 100,000 women.

The 1,344 counties had similar factors, leading to the researchers' categorization of what type of women is dying faster than the rest of the nation. They found that these counties were mostly from the rural areas of southern or western states. These white women were considered to be "disadvantaged" because they lacked education. However, there was no evidence showing that education played a factor in premature deaths. Since no statistical proof was found, the researchers theorized several reasons as to why this trend is happening.

First, based from numbers, the south has higher rates of smokers and high school dropouts. Women from these areas may not have learned the importance of healthy eating and healthy lifestyles, and thus, their habits might be leading them to an early death. Furthermore, the obesity rates are also higher in these counties, and obesity is one of the contributing factors to heart diseases, diabetes, and other life threatening illnesses.  The researchers also noted that richer and more educated women originating from these areas had the opportunity to relocate, whereas poorer women could be viewed as stuck in their situations. Although these could all be contributing factors to this trend, the researchers also acknowledged the fact that men from these counties did not have the same trends.

The researchers only found that men were dying earlier than expected in 100 counties. The nationwide life expectancies for men and women are 76 to 81 respectively and the gap between the numbers has been dwindling in recent years. 

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