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Most humans are living longer due to modern technology and medicine. In fact, the first person to live to 150 years old has already been born, according to recent reports.
But last week, one group was reported to be not living as long: middle-aged white Americans. According to a recent Princeton study between 1999 and 2013, the mortality rate of this group (ages 45 to 54) went up significantly, increasing by 134 deaths among 100,000 people.
What are the leading causes of death for this group? There are three main factors.
The only other time that researchers saw a spike in death rates was in the 1960s when smoking was more common and in the 1980s during the AIDS epidemic.
But while there are three main factors contributing to the increase in mortality rates, most scientists and researchers are looking closely at education.
Other significant findings from the study reported that most people in this group are high school educated or less; the same age group with a college education or higher saw a decrease in mortality rates. So perhaps not getting your high school diploma could mean less job opportunities, which could lead to depression and alcohol and drug abuse, which could lead to suicide. Researchers are questioning how all four of these factors might work together in telling a bigger story.
Overall, Americans are used to hearing about obesity and cancer being the leading causes of death. But this new study says something completely different. To quote Ellen Meara, associate professor of health policy and clinical practice at the Dartmouth Institute, it may actually be something “not purely biological.”
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