American women are dying younger. Men aren’t.

October 10, 2013 (FOXNEWS) – The most shocking study, published in August 2012 by the journal Health Affairs, found that life expectancy for white female high-school dropouts has fallen dramatically over the past 18 years. These women are now expected to die five years earlier than the generation before them—a radical decline that is virtually unheard of in the world of modern medicine. In fact, the only parallel is the spike in Russian male mortality after the fall of the Soviet Union, which has primarily been attributed to rising alcohol consumption and accidental death rates.

Education alone does not explain why female high-school dropouts are so much worse off than they were two decades ago. But researchers have used it as a proxy to determine more significant socioeconomic indicators, like access to health care and income opportunities, as well as health behaviors like smoking and obesity. Smoking in particular appears to have had a significant impact on female mortality rates, as the health consequences of previous decades of tobacco use set in. Olshansky points out that female obesity and drug abuse have risen dramatically over the past two decades, and may also play a role in mortality rates.

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