A recent study of death records confirm that middle aged whites in America are seeing a rise in death rates. This a surprising reversal suggesting mental health issues and addiction is reversing longevity gains over previous decades. The report centers around data from death records between 1999 through 2013. The reversals are attributed to chronic liver disease, drug abuse and overdoses, suicide and alcohol addiction. The report has been published by the Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences. These acknowledged causes offset other key major factors in mortality within mid life such as lung cancer.

This new evidence is seen as being a game changer for prioritizing research in to public health. Drug and alcohol abuse is now a major player in death records that can’t be ignored. No other affluent developed country has witnessed similar reversals. The trend for white middle aged Americans goes against data from death records for Hispanic and black Americans in the same age group over the corresponding period. The authors from Princeton University were Angus Deaton and Anne Case.

The rise in mortality was primarily between both women and men with no more than an education from high school and between the ages of 45 and 54. Death rates from death records are determined within the study as deaths per 100,000 individuals per age cohort. It was also confirmed that for higher educated middle aged white citizens the causes were also proportionate. The authors found that mortality for whites between the ages of 45 and 54 rose annually by half a per cent from 1999 through 2013. This following declines of an average 2% a year from 1978 through 1998. Had the declines of 2% continued the amount of deaths avoided from 1999 to 2013 would have been 488,500. The study draws on death records, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with other sources.

The findings are a statement as to how individuals cope with mental and physical pain. Changes in lifestyle and situations along with adversity. The group is seen as a collective in distress. The rise in death rates can be attributed, in part, to the surge in the abuse of prescription drugs. Amongst ethnic groups whites have a high rate of non medical engagement with prescription pain killers. The majority deaths from prescription pain killers between 1999 to 2013 were whites with the highest rate of between 45 to 54 at 10.6 per 100,000. Further research is required to establish as to why middle aged whites are blighted with chronic pain and to further address the issues with non addictive medication. The study has been funded by The National Institute on Aging.

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