Premature Death Rates Diverge Among Races

Premature death rates in the United States have declined among Hispanic, African American and Asian/Pacific Islander populations (API). Rates increased among whites and American Indian/Alaska Natives (AI/AN), according to a comprehensive study of premature death rates for the entire population from 1999 to 2014 published by The Lancet.

The decline among the Hispanic, African Americans and API populations was attributed to fewer deaths from cancer, heart disease, and HIV. It is reflective of the successes in public health efforts to slow tobacco use and improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of deadly diseases. Whites also experienced declines in premature deaths from cancer and heart disease for most age groups. In spite of the improvements noted, premature death rates remained higher for African American men and women.

In contrast, the overall premature death rates for whites and AI/AN populations were driven up by dramatic increases in accidental deaths - including drug overdoses, and deaths by suicide and liver disease. Investigators observed increases as high as 2-to-5 percent yearly among whites and AI/ANs aged 25-30.

Please click here to read the full report, conducted by researchers from the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, both part of the National Institutes of Health.