February 18, 2019

Why Is American Life Expectancy Declining?

“For a nation that spends more on healthcare per citizen than almost any other, America isn’t exactly reaping the rewards. Life expectancy has been steadily climbing for decades now, but in the last few years it’s taken a troubling turn in the other direction.

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control shows that a small decrease in life expectancy, from 78.7 to 78.6 years, is part of a continuing trend. Even as we make progress treating cancer, heart disease, and stroke—three of the biggest killers—we’re losing ground on other fronts and have been since 2014. That makes this continuous decline unlike anything we’ve seen since World War I and the Spanish influenza, which both happened between 1915 and 1918.

In its report, the CDC highlighted three things that have contributed to American’s shrinking life expectancy in recent years: drug overdoses, chronic liver disease, and suicide. “Increased death rates for unintentional drug overdoses in particular—a subset of unintentional injuries—contributed to the negative change in life expectancy observed in recent years,” the report reads.”

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