Soaring overdose deaths cut USA life expectancy for 2nd year

2016 Was Way Worse For Our Health Than We Thought
Soaring overdose deaths cut USA life expectancy for 2nd year

25 December, 2017

The national health agency recently released new information regarding life expectancy and death in the United States, and the news on the inevitable is, frankly, a huge downer.

Last year also marked the first time since 1962 - 1963 that the US life expectancy fell two consecutive years. Fatal overdoses that involved fentanyl and fentanyl-like drugs doubled in one year, to more than 19,000, mostly from illegally made pills or powder, which is often mixed with heroin or other drugs.

"Even though 1/10th of a year of decline in life expectancy doesn't seem like a lot, it actually represents a lot of lives cut short", said Bob Anderson, chief of the Mortality Statistics Branch of the National Center for Health Statistics.

Unintentional drug overdoses were largely responsible for a 10 percent increase in the number of unintentional injuries or accidents.

Large numbers of Americans have died from opioid overdoses in the last few years, and the numbers are rising. "We need to get a handle on it". The last time there was a two-year drop was 1962-1963.

A three-year decline happened in 1916, 1917 and 1918, which included the worst flu pandemic in modern history.

-West Virginia continued to be the state with highest drug overdose death rate, with a rate of 52 deaths per 100,000 state residents in 2016.

But heart disease and cancer are still responsible for most of the 2,712,650 deaths that occurred in the 2016.

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While older Americans are living longer, younger people are dying at a higher rate.

"Demographically, we should be in the middle of a mini baby boomlet, just given the age of the population and the size of the millennials, but we're not". Some states have been hit worse than others; in OH, morgues are running out of space, and West Virginia spent $1 million last fiscal year transporting corpses.

-Accidental injuries displaced chronic lower respiratory diseases to become the nation's third leading cause of death.

Even Costa Rica, a country with far lower per capita income, and which spends far less on healthcare, significantly outperforms the U.S. on life expectancy.

There's been a big increase in deaths from synthetic opioids, including fentanyl and tramadol. Life expectancy for American men declined from 76.3 to 76.1 between 2015 and 2016, but stayed the same for women, 81.1.

-Gun deaths rose for a second year, to almost 39,000. They include congenital birth defects, low birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome. Japan's average life expectancy, among the highest in the world, was 84.06 years in 2016, up 0.26 year from 2015.

The team also looked at the infant mortality rate, which barely changed in 2016 but which also falls behind the records of other developed countries.

"The fact that USA has basically stagnated over the past seven years - and now we're seeing small declines - is a real sign that the doing badly", said Jessica Ho, a University of Southern California researcher who studies death trends.

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