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Straight, No Chaser In The News: U.S. Life Expectancy Drops for the Second Straight Year

By Jeffrey Sterling, MD June 3, 2020

Imagine how significant the change must be to cause a change across a nation of over 360 million people. For the second straight year (after two decades of trending in the opposite direction), the life expectancy in the United States has dropped. Here are the numbers, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

  • American can now, on average, expect to live 78.6 years.
  • The average for women is 81.1 years.
  • The average for men is 76.1 years.

In case you’re wondering, here’s the 2016 list for the ten most common causes of death (which account for 74.1% of all deaths in the US), in order of frequency (yes, the flu is a top ten cause of death).

  • Heart disease (decreased)
  • Cancer (decreased)
  • Unintentional injuries (increased)
  • Chronic lower respiratory disease, including asthma and COPD (decreased)
  • Stroke (decreased)
  • Alzheimer’s disease (increased)
  • Diabetes (decreased)
  • Influenza (decreased)
  • Pneumonia (decreased)
  • Kidney disease (decreased)
  • Suicide (increased)

Here are two other notable facts:

  • By far, heart disease and cancer are still the top causes of death in both sexes, so your behavior (both positive and negative) related to diet and exercise still are your best path forward.
  • The massive increases in death due to unintentional injuries such as opiate (narcotic) overdose do not appear to be declining anytime soon.

Data for different ethnicities was not included in this report.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
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