United States life expectancy drops, overdoses climb - govt report

Life expectancy in the us has fallen once again, following a trend that began in 2015 when the average expected life span of a baby born in the United States took a small but significant hit.

The 2017 decline was due to a drop in life expectancy among men, who saw their estimated life expectancy at birth decline from 76.2 years in 2016 to 76.1 years in 2017.

"Life expectancy gives us a snapshot of the nation's overall health, and these sobering statistics are a wakeup call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable".

The death rate from drug overdoses increased by almost 10 percent, from 19.8 deaths per 100,000 people in 2016 to 21.7 deaths per 100,000 people in 2017.

"We've never really seen anything like this", said Robert Anderson, who oversees CDC death statistics.

Suicides are also on the rise, and men are again more likely to be affected.

The most striking trend in suicide deaths is their geographic distribution.

West Virginia saw the highest overdose death rate in 2017 at 58 per 100,000 people; Ohio, Pennsylvania and the USA capital also topped the list.

"I really do believe that people are increasingly hopeless, and that that leads to drug use, it leads potentially to suicide", Dietz told the Associated Press.

Among the nation's 10 leading causes of death, only the cancer death rate fell in 2017, while 7 other causes increased.

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The top three causes of death in the USA are heart disease, cancer, and accidents.

The top 10 causes of death, which account for 74 percent of mortality in the USA, remained the same between 2016 and 2017.

Drug overdoses set another annual record in 2017, cresting at 70,237 - up from 63,632 the year before, the government said in a companion report. "[The] CDC is committed to putting science into action to protect USA health, but we must all work together to reverse this trend and help ensure that all Americans live longer and healthier lives".

Think your friends would be interested? Earlier CDC reports have noted increasing rates of suicide by gun.

Since 1999, the number of drug overdose deaths has more than quadrupled.

The recent increases in drug overdose deaths have been so steep that they have contributed to reductions in the country's life expectancy over the past three years and are the leading cause of death for adults under 55. Pennsylvania had one of the highest overdose rates in 2016, but it comes off looking relatively well off on the age-adjusted mortality map.

"None of this is surprising", said Stephanie Appleby, the director of marketing and development for southwest Missouri's National Alliance on Mental Illness when asked about the newest statistics. The increases were particularly concentrated in rural America, and among middle-aged women, though the suicide rate for men remains higher than that for women at every age. There were 38 in 2017, increasing to 44 so far in 2018.

And she points out that while there are many factors in the rising rates, two of the biggest deal with the medical care provided.

"There are not a lot of resources that we have available", she said. "We need to start to see this rate going down".

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