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Cafe Society to discuss increased mortality of middle aged adults

By Staff | Nov 16, 2015

The Cafe Society, a part of Shepherd University’s Life Long Learning Program will hold its next discussion on Nov. 17. The topic will be: “At a time when life expectancy in the U.S. is greatly prolonged, why is the death rate of middle aged white adults dramatically increasing?”

These weekly discussions are held from 8:30 to 10 a.m. in the Rumsey Room of the Shepherd University Student Center each Tuesday morning. They are continuing on an informal basis through the summer break. Pre-registration is not required and there are no fees or charges. Last Tuesday, in a well attended standing – room – only session — the Cafe Society discussed the challenge of meeting the cost of education in Jefferson County. A strong case was made for support of continuing at present levels, the Excess School Levy in the vote on Dec. 12.

Regarding next week’s topic, Cafe Society facilitator, Mike Austin commented, “Startling new scientific studies over the past 15 years reveal that in contrast to other western nations, the death rate of white men and women between the ages of 45 to 54 in the U.S. is increasing. The cause is attributed to drug and alcohol abuse, suicide and liver disease. More importantly it appears that something is going on that is not simply biological. Socio-economic life style issues appear to be important factors. While these are only trends, the analysis clearly indicates a need for serious examination of the causes.”

He commented further, “The authors are 2015 Nobel Prize winners in the field of economic research, so their findings are hard to ignore. They raise important questions about why we are not seeing the same losses among black and Hispanic Americans. Further, the findings highlight the fact that middle-aged whites with only a high school education (or less) are increasingly vulnerable. They suggest that comparatively less education and fewer economic opportunities may lead to increased despair, worse health, and in turn increased drug and alcohol abuse among our disadvantaged citizens.”

ISuggestions for future Cafe Society topics are welcome. For more information about the Cafe Society program contact Austin at 304-876-0598 or michael.austin@frontiernet.net.