More white, Native Americans dying early, study says

Story highlights

  • Premature mortality rose for white, American Indian, Alaskan Native populations between 1999 and 2014
  • Two key reasons were accidental deaths, largely attributable to drug overdose, and suicide
  • Black, Asian and Latino early deaths have decreased

(CNN)Premature death is on the rise for Native and white Americans in the United States, with drug overdose and suicide contributing heavily to the increase, according to a new study.

"What surprised me the most was the size of the increase," said Meredith Shiels, an investigator with the National Cancer Institute's Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics. Shiels was lead author of the study, published Wednesday in the journal The Lancet.
From 1999 to 2014, mortality surged as high as 2% to 5% per year among white, Native American and Alaskan Native people ages 25 to 30.
    "The last time we saw increases like this was during the AIDS epidemic in the '80s and '90s," Shiels said.
    In contrast, other minority groups -- people of black, Asian and Hispanic origin -- have seen fewer deaths among 25- to 64-year-olds than in years past, partly due to gains in the treatment and detection of cancer, HIV and heart disease, according to the study.