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Middle-aged white Americans are dying at a rising rate; why?

A new study that looked at death rates has revealed some very surprising numbers.

It seems that white middle-aged Americans — ages 45 to 54 — have a death rate that is rising and has been since 1998. Check out the story from Medical Daily here.

It’s not like this is happening among all races and ethnicities or all age groups. The numbers show that the death rates for Latinos and African Americans at all ages are declining. So are the death rates for white Americans who are younger and older that 54.

And here’s another startling bit of information: those deaths are not occurring because of the usual suspects, heart disease or diabetes. Rather, the top three reasons for the uptick is linked to an increasing number of suicides as well as a rise in deaths from alcohol or drug poisoning (heroin and prescription ophioids), and chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, according to the Medical Daily story.

Education is a factor too, the story points out. Those white Americans whose education stopped at high school were more likely to die in middle age than those with some college or a bachelor’s degree.

This really is unprecedented. As one of the two study researchers, Angus Deaton, said in a New York Times story about the study: “Only HIV/AIDS in contemporary times has done anything like this.”

PHOTO: SALLY WASHBURN~SUN-TIMES MEDIA FILE PHOTO