Published: Thu, November 29, 2018
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

Another year, another decrease in life expectancy in the US

Another year, another decrease in life expectancy in the US

The US witnessed the most deaths in a single year, since official records began, in 2017, with suicide and drug overdose deaths soaring among an aging population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Drug overdose deaths rose by almost 10 per cent past year, claiming more than 70,000 lives, while the suicide rate continued to increase, particularly in rural areas where it was almost twice that experienced in U.S. cities, according to official figures released today.

Overall, Americans could expect to live 78.6 years at birth in 2017, down a tenth of a year from the 2016 estimate. The rate of overdose deaths increased by 9.6% between 2016 and 2017. Overall, there were more than 2.8 million US deaths in 2017, or almost 70,000 more than the previous year, the center said.

The decline is likely due in part to the continuing rise in drug overdose deaths, the CDC said.

Suicide was ranked as the 10th-leading cause of death for Americans of all ages and the second-leading leading cause of death for people between ages 10 and 34, the data said.

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.


Most races and ethnic groups, including black males, Hispanic males and Hispanic females, saw no significant changes in their death rate year over year. Preliminary data released last month also said drug overdose deaths have fallen over the a year ago.

Separately, suicide rates have increased by about 2 percent per year between 2006 and 2017, according to the CDC's data.

Age was an influencing factor in these deaths, the researchers found. Adults between 25 and 54 experienced the highest rates of drug overdose deaths in 2017. "I really do believe that people are increasingly hopeless, and that that leads to drug use, it leads potentially to suicide", he said.

Heart disease and cancer were still the leading causes of death by a wide margin, killing more than 152 people out of every 100,000 in 2017-although deaths from cancer decreased significantly.

Of the nation's 10 leading causes of death, only the death rate for cancer fell a year ago.

Overdose deaths reached a new high in 2017, topping 70,000, while the suicide rate increased by 3.7 percent, the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics reports. Between 1999 and 2017, the suicide rate increased by 33 percent. But earlier CDC reports noted increase rates of suicide by gun and by suffocation or hanging. There were more than 47,000 suicides, up from a little under 45,000 the year before. In the most rural counties, however, the 1999 rate of 13.1 per 100,000 had jumped by 53 percent, to 20 per 100,000 in 2017. Women generally live longer, with a life expectancy of 81.1 last year, a number that stayed flat compared with the year before.

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