Published: Mon, December 12, 2016
Medical | By Dorothy Lyons

U.S. Life Expectancy Declines for the First Time in 20 Years

U.S. Life Expectancy Declines for the First Time in 20 Years

Furthermore, a 0.1 years drop in life expectancy means people are dying, on average, a little over a month earlier - or two months earlier for men.

But deaths from cancer, the second leading cause of mortality, dropped by 1.7 per cent from 151.2 deaths per 100,000 people in 2014 to 158.5 previous year.

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Experts cautioned against interpreting too much from a single year of data; the numbers could reverse themselves next year, they said.

So the news out of the federal government Thursday is disturbing: The overall USA death rate has increased for the first time in a decade, according to an analysis of the latest data.

A nation's well-being is tracked by scientists through the rate at which its citizens die and how long they are expected to live.

Life expectancy last went down during the peak of the HIV/Aids crisis in 1993.

While the World Health Organization reported that, "the world's highest life expectancy is in Japan, which is well known for the longevity of its elderly citizens". It is highest in Japan, at almost 84 years.

The figures show rises in several causes of death, especially heart disease, dementia and accidental infant deaths. Those were heart disease, respiratory disease, unintentional injuries, stroke, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and suicide.

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"Clearly, that could be related to the economic circumstances that many Americans have experienced in the last eight years, or so, since the recession", says Irma Elo, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania.

The report did not analyze the reasons behind the overall trend, but experts saw a number of possible explanations, including obesity and the rising impact of drug overdoses and suicides.

Some years the CDC later revises its life expectancy estimate after doing additional analysis, including for its 2014 estimate.

A person born in the U.S.in 2015 could expect to live 78.8 years, on average. It fell by about one month for women, to 81 years and 2½ months, the CDC said. Mortality among black women, Hispanic women, and Hispanic men didn't change from 2014 to 2015.

Death rates rose for white men, white women and black men.

Vice President Joe Biden was honored with an emotional bi-partisan tribute on the Senate chamber floor on December 7.

Death rates from two other major causes, influenza and pneumonia, did not significantly change.

"The troubling trends are most pronounced for the people who are the most disadvantaged", said Jennifer Karas Montez, a Syracuse University researcher who studies adult death patterns.

"If we're not getting continued improvement in life expectancy, then perhaps we should redirect some of that towards raising workers' take-home pay. and improving educational opportunities", Skinner said.

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