Deaths spike by 6% in young Americans

Death rates among working-age Americans are rising, which is decreasing life expectancy, a new study suggests. 

Researchers found that mortality rates for US adults between ages 25 and 64 have risen by six percent since 2010.

The most likely causes included alcohol abuse, drug overdoses, suicides and organ system diseases.

They also found that life expetancy in the US rose from 1959 to 2014, and then fell from 78.9 in 2014 to 78.6 in 2017.

The team, from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, says the findings suggest economic changes such as states affected by the loss in manufacturing jobs and lack of access to healthcare may be behind the rising rates.  

A new study from Virginia Commonwealth University has found mortality rates for Americans aged 25 to 64 have risen from 328.5 deaths per 100,000 in 2010 to 348.2 deaths in 2017

‘Working-age Americans are more likely to die in the prime of their lives,’ said lead author Dr Steven Woolf, a professor in the department of family medicine and population health at the VCU School of Medicine.  

‘For employers, this means that their workforce is dying prematurely, impacting the US economy. More importantly, this trend means that children are losing their parents and our children are destined to live shorter lives than us.’  

For the the study, published in the Journal of the Medical Association, the team analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Mortality Database.

Researchers looked at life expectancy data between 1959 and 2016 and mortality rates for 1999 to 2017.

They found that life expectancy rose by about 10 years, from 69.9 years in 1959 to 78.9 years in 2014.

It then decline to 78.6 in 2017. 

However, beginning in 2010, mid-life mortality rates began rising. Rates increased from 328.5 deaths per 100,000 in 2010 to 348.2 deaths in 2017. 

Mortality rates rose particularly among Americans from ages 25 to 64 in the so-called Rust Belt, Appalachia and New England.

These include states such as Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.   

Adults are more likely die before age 65 from alcohol abuse, drug overdoses, suicides and organs system diseases, such as cardiovascular disease or gastrointestinal diseases.    

Increases in death rates were lowest in Pacific states – Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington – and populous states such as New York and Texas.

For future research, the team plans to examine the root causes of these deaths, but hypothesizes that they include rising obesity rates, poor access to health care, stress and the economy. 

‘Three lines of evidence suggest a potential association between mortality trends and economic conditions,’ the paper reads.

This may explain the large increases in mortality rates occurring among women and adults without a high school diploma and why rates are high in regions impacted by changes in the economy since the 1980s such as losses in manufacturing jobs.  

‘The notion that US death rates are increasing for working-age adults is particularly disturbing because it is not happening like this in other countries,’ Dr Woolf said. 

‘This is a distinctly American phenomenon.’