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The U.S. Life Expectation disappear, partly due to drugs and suicide



The life expectancy of the United States in 2017 resulted in the third year running, as deaths from suicide and drug overdose continue to claim more American lives.

The American average could expect to live to 78.6 years in 2017, down from 78.7 in 2016, according to data released Thursday by the Centers for Health Statistics for Disease Control and National Prevention (NCHS). That downturn may be moderate, but it indicates the third consecutive year that life expectancy at birth has decreased – a notable phenomenon, as the previous tissue recorded by the NCHS early in the 1960's.

The modern trend seems to be triggered by a steady increase in suicide and drug deaths, according to the new data. Deaths in suicide deaths and accidental injuries (including drug overdoses), as well as due to conditions including Alzheimer's disease, stroke, flu and pneumonia, have reduced significantly in heart disease and cancer, mainly death. All coupled with, the US mortality rate rose by 0.4% from 2016 to 2017, ranging from 728.8 deaths per 100,000 people to 731.9.

Drug overdoses only took 70,237 lives in 2017, the highest ever recorded for one year. Although that number matches an increase of 9.6% in the death rate, it is much less than the 21% jump recorded between 2015 and 2016 – a sign may have a substance misuse epidemic country to start stabilizing. Preliminary data released last month has also reported that drug overdose deaths have decreased over the past year.

Still, drugs – opioids such as heroin – continue to be a serious cause of death. And synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, are an increasing problem: The rate of overdose deaths that includes these drugs increased by 45% from 2016 to 2017.

Meanwhile, deaths rose by 3.7% between 2016 and 2017, according to the new report. Although still relatively rare, suicide accounted for 14 deaths per 100,000 people in U.S. and last year. In 1999, on the other hand, that number was around 10.5 per 100,000 people.

There has been a marked increase among women, although most people who die by suicide are male. The female suicide rate rose by 53% between 1999 and 2017, compared to 26% for men. CDC data in the past has shown a special increase in teenage concern, the suicide rate rose by around 70% between 2010 and 2016.

The new data is sober, but the continuous downturn in heart disease and cancer deaths provides a silver lining. Although the reduction in deaths for heart disease was relatively small last year, the cancer mortality rate fell by 2.1% – a tendency that would probably reflect better screening and detection, smoking rates, expand vaccination against cancers, Associated with HPV and other public health developments.

Write to Jamie Ducharme is jamie.ducharme@time.com.


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