HEALTH NEWS Dying too young: Deaths among middle-aged adults reversing life expectancy trends

  
Via:  perrie-halpern  •  2 weeks ago  •  16 comments

By:   Erika Edwards

HEALTH NEWS Dying too young: Deaths among middle-aged adults reversing life expectancy trends
Women, racial minorities and people living in the Ohio Valley are hit hardest by this "distinctly American phenomenon."

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


An increasing number of Americans are dying in the prime of their lives, a trend not observed in other wealthy nations, according to research published Tuesday in the   Journal of the American Medical Association .

These "excess deaths" — that is, people who die years and even decades before they're expected to — tend to be clustered in the nation's Rust Belt, where economies once boomed with a thriving steel industry, but have been in decline since the 1970s.


"That's when the U.S. began losing pace with other countries," said Dr. Steven Woolf, lead author of the new report and the director emeritus of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University.

"This is a distinctly American phenomenon," he added.

Woolf's study analyzed nearly 60 years of data, from 1959 through 2017, collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Life expectancy in America increased steadily from the late 1950s through 2014, when it peaked at 78.9 years. It then declined for the next three years, falling to 78.6 years in 2017.

Researchers attribute that downturn to a growing number of people dying well before they should, between the ages of 25 and 64.


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Major causes of death in this age group are from drug overdoses, particularly opioids, alcohol and suicides. Together, these are often referred to as " deaths of despair ."

Fatal drug overdoses increased significantly in the past two decades, most notably among people ages 55 to 64. The study found that overdose death rates rose from 2.3 deaths per 100,000 people in that age group in 1999, to 23.5 deaths per 100,000 people in 2017 — an increase of more than 900 percent.

But midlife mortality rates have also increased for   35 other causes of death , especially those related to chronic health problems such as diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. The wide range of causes of death suggests that the root of the problem is deep and complicated.

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"In a way, it would have been easier if we could blame it all on one cause like opioids or guns or obesity," Woolf told NBC News. But he said the causes of death are "so diverse that it makes us think something systemic is responsible and is expressing itself in our health in many different domains."

The largest increases in excess deaths for middle-aged adults were found in the Ohio Valley region, with one-third of the country's deaths reported in just four states: Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The study authors say that the economic downturns that began in those states during the 1970s and the 1980s fueled chronic stress among their citizens, and are now manifested in growing midlife death rates.

"If you’re trying to make ends meet, you’re less likely to go to the doctor. You may not do a good job taking care of your diabetes or heart disease," Woolf said. "Also, you may be more likely to adopt unhealthy coping behaviors. You may turn to drugs as access to opioids becomes more prevalent as it did in the 1990s."

Increased deaths overall among middle-aged adults were also significant in part of New England, including Maine and New Hampshire.

Although men overall have higher death rates in this age group,   women   are catching up in certain areas. Between 1999 and 2017, the rate of death from alcoholic liver disease was 3.4 times higher in middle-aged women than men. Women also outpaced men in deadly drug overdoses.

The trends were noted across all races and ethnicities, including African American populations that have experienced disproportionately high death rates relative to whites for generations.

"We, in the fields of medicine and public health, have been working very hard to try to narrow the black/white mortality gap. And for some years, we were making really good progress," Woolf said. "But now this trend has touched the African American community and that decline in mortality has stopped and reversed itself."

"This is quite tragic because it's reversing years of progress in lowering those rates," he added.

An editorial that accompanied the new research pointed out an emerging health problem that may serve as a warning for future mortality trends:   vaping .

"Resolving the crisis represented by a new unexplained pulmonary illness linked to use of noncombustible e-cigarettes is an immediate priority," the editorial read, "especially given substantial increases in the prevalence of youth vaping."

One of the authors of the editorial, Dr. Howard Koh of the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, told NBC News the   2,290 vaping-related illnesses   reported nationwide should serve as a "call to action" for strict regulation of electronic cigarettes. At least 48 people have died from EVALI, short for e-cigarette or vaping associated lung injury.

"We need to decrease tobacco use because that's a preventable cause of death in our country," said Koh, who served as the assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services during the Obama administration.

There is mounting evidence that nicotine e-cigarettes have seen widespread use among the   nation's youth , and appear to be addicting a new generation to tobacco.

"If stresses lead people to take up smoking," Woolf said, "we’ve got a much bigger problem on our hands."

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JohnRussell
1  JohnRussell    2 weeks ago

I don't think people in those other countries where the life expectancy is a little longer have the personal pressure to "succeed" as we see in the United States. Increasingly, decade by decade, since the end of WW I  or so we have had a culture where someone's worth as a person is tied to what they have and how much they make. As technology has more and more become the basis for the national economy, and as a result a higher percentage of the profits from business have gone to the 'talent' (marketers, managers, innovators, those on the digital forefront, and "financialization" profiteers) who are mainly concentrated in urban areas, those in smaller cities and towns see far less opportunity. 

Maybe capitalism is not the cure all that some people think it is. 

I think this is the heart of this article

The study authors say that the economic downturns that began in those states during the 1970s and the 1980s fueled chronic stress among their citizens, and are now manifested in growing midlife death rates. "If you’re trying to make ends meet, you’re less likely to go to the doctor. You may not do a good job taking care of your diabetes or heart disease," Woolf said. "Also, you may be more likely to adopt unhealthy coping behaviors. You may turn to drugs as access to opioids becomes more prevalent as it did in the 1990s."

 
 
 
XDm9mm
1.1  XDm9mm  replied to  JohnRussell @1    2 weeks ago
I think this is the heart of this article

Actually JR, I think THIS is the heart of the article:

Major causes of death in this age group are from drug overdoses, particularly opioids, alcohol and suicides.

While they have had setbacks in their lives, they've also made some pretty shitty lifestyle choices to fix those setbacks.  They've chosen temporary fixes instead of finding a permanent solution to get them back on track.

 
 
 
Krishna
1.2  Krishna  replied to  JohnRussell @1    2 weeks ago

Its not capitalism--- unless of course you believe that since the founding of our nation we never had capitalism in our country -- until 2014!

The article clearly states:

Life expectancy in America increased steadily from the late 1950s through 2014, when it peaked at 78.9 years. It then declined for the next three years, falling to 78.6 years in 2017.

 
 
 
Krishna
1.3  Krishna  replied to  JohnRussell @1    2 weeks ago
Maybe capitalism is not the cure all that some people think it is. 

OTOH--- maybe, just possibly . . . every single thing that happens on this earth is not caused solely by a particular political (or religious)  system!

(Granted that may be a difficult concept for frequent users of social media sites to comprehend :-( 

 
 
 
Greg Jones
2  Greg Jones    2 weeks ago

Maybe capitalism is not the cure all that some people think it is. 

So progressive socialism would be better?

 
 
 
Jasper2529
2.1  Jasper2529  replied to  Greg Jones @2    2 weeks ago
So progressive socialism would be better?

To some, yes - and it's alarming to learn that so many Americans embrace socialism.

 
 
 
TᵢG
2.1.1  TᵢG  replied to  Jasper2529 @2.1    2 weeks ago

They embrace social democracy (aka statism), not socialism.   They just call it socialism.

 
 
 
jungkonservativ111
3  jungkonservativ111    2 weeks ago

We should be looking at the impact of social media on our society. It has only been around for about 15 to 20 years and is most concerning in young adults who have had it their whole life. Constantly comparing your life to those around you, in addition to the media industry glorifying glamorous lifestyles while most people are financially suffering, could be significant sources of depression that I don't think have been researched enough.

 
 
 
charger 383
3.1  charger 383  replied to  jungkonservativ111 @3    2 weeks ago

A good point

 
 
 
MUVA
4  MUVA    2 weeks ago

People make poor choices in eating and sleep habits I come from a family of people that have lived to their 90’s.I actually have a appointment with a cancer specialist to see why I’m anemic the 4 of December. the funny think is wife went threw the same thing last year they found she  has bleeding ulcers.I was going to Breckinridge for thanksgiving till my friend I was going with died in a Freak accident about a month ago when him and his lawnmower went over a bulkhead and it landed on him.Last night we got a call about a old neighbor that died of lung cancer we didn't even know was sick I’m probably next.

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
4.1  sandy-2021492  replied to  MUVA @4    2 weeks ago

I'm sorry for the loss of your friend.

 
 
 
Enoch
4.2  Enoch  replied to  MUVA @4    2 weeks ago

Dear Friend Muva: Please check your site private notes.

P&AB.

Enoch.

 
 
 
sixpick
4.3  sixpick  replied to  MUVA @4    2 weeks ago

I'm sorry about your losses, Muva.  I hope your wife is doing better.  My father had bleeding ulcers when I was growing up.  He never had any pain, only turned white as a sheet.  It was determined some sort of virus was the culprit.  Perrie could probably expand on this.  Anyway, after being rushed to the hospital a few times, he just got over it, I guess.  I don't remember anything he was doing that would have been bad for his health, but it just ended and he lived for another 35 plus years without his bleeding ulcers and died from ischemic heart disease, sudden death heart attack.  He cooked with lard and I think that was the reason for the heart attack.  His father lived to 93 or 94 and his mother lived about the same age.  His sisters changed their diet much earlier in their lives and they are still alive today in their 80's.

I use to stay with his grand parents who lived into their late 80's to upper 90's.  They lived off of chickens and their gardens, with canned goods all winter and fresh vegetables all the rest of the year.  They ate some pork, but mostly chicken.  I wonder if they ever had a steak. 

I think one of the worst things you can put into your diet is sugar.  This country is full of giants and I don't mean tall, but wide and big around, gobbling a big piece of cakes with icing and covered with ice cream.  Wow!!  That sounds good and too many people indulge too much in this type of food.  High carbohydrates along with sugar are making people bigger and bigger.  I think many have just accepted this new enlarged body as normal.  We must have a change of life and exercise more, eat less and eat better if we can every expect to have a chance at living longer.

 
 
 
It Is ME
5  It Is ME    2 weeks ago

The more kids aren't structured to handle life by their parents, the worse it's gonna get !

In my day...I was taught that "I" was the ONLY ONE that could "Make It", NOT that I "Deserve It" !

 
 
 
Krishna
6  Krishna    2 weeks ago

I think there is probably more than one cause.

Factory closings in The Rust Belt are a factor there-- but elsewhere the economy is good and unemployment is at a low. 

And perhaps several different factors came together at the same time (the last few years)..

A while back I saw a chart of per capita sugar consumption-- the graph turned sharply upward the last few years. There's also the introduction of HFCS..

.I remember when I was a kid, it seemed there was one "fat kid" in every class. (We had a name for him/or her-- "The Fat Kid"). It almost seemed like that was a rule-- you had to have one fat kid in every class (but no more than one!).

Now it seems there may be only a very few "regular weight kids"-- the majority are all significantly overweight.

Modern conveniences have made it easier for people to be less active. 

As was mentioned, the rise of social media-- people spend more time being sedentary. And apparently many teenagters get depressed because they compare themselves to all the good-;ooling clebrities they see on media and feel "inferior". 

 
 
 
Krishna
7  Krishna    2 weeks ago

Women, racial minorities and people living in the Ohio Valley are hit hardest by this "distinctly American phenomenon.

That reminds me of a bit of satire of innocent (innocent?) satire-- this headline:

World To End Tomorrow: Women, Minorities Hardest Hit

 
 
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