The life expectancy for white women in the United States dropped slightly in 2014, according to a federal report released Wednesday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data showed life expectancy among non-Hispanic white women declined by one month—from 81.2 years to 81.1 years—between 2013 and 2014.
"The increase in death in this segment of the population was great enough to affect life expectancy at birth for the whole group," Elizabeth Arias, the statistician at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics who analyzed the data, said of whites aged 24 to 54. "That is very unusual."
The decline marks the first time in the study’s history that white women’s projected lifespan has fallen. Aries said the drop was likely caused by increases in drug overdoses, suicides, and disease caused by smoking and alcoholism, the Washington Post reported.
Life expectancy for whites fell from 78.9 years in 2013 to 78.8 years in 2014. Though the life span among white men also fell, the drop was not statistically significant.
"Despite the positive influences of declines in heart disease and cancer and stroke, increases in other causes like suicide, chronic liver disease, and unintentional poisonings were so large that they had a negative effect on life expectancy," Aries said.
The life expectancies among minority groups meanwhile increased, according to the data.
The life span for Hispanics grew from 81.6 to 81.8 years between 2013 to 2014 among both men and women. Life expectancy among black men spiked the highest, rising from 71.8 to 72.2 years during the same time period.
Arias said the progress is likely linked to declines in homicides, cancer, and heart disease, NPR reported.