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US life expectancy declines for first time in 20 years

Data released by the National Center for Health Statistics (CDC) reports life expectancy in the US has declined for the first time in more than 20 years. Life expectancy dropped from 76.5 years in 2014 to 76.3 in 2015 for men and from 81.3 to 81.2 for women. Overall life expectancy dropped by 0.1 years in 2015, to 78.8 years.

This decline in life expectancy equates to men dying, on average, two months earlier and women dying a little over one month earlier. The last decline in life expectancy occurred in 1993, during the high of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The preliminary figures depict rises for eight of the ten leading causes of death, including big rises in death caused by heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and accidental deaths among infants.

Experts have pointed to rising obesity levels, an ageing population, and rising “social stressors,” which includes economic struggles and addiction (ex. the current opioid epidemic) as wider factors in stagnating and declining life expectancy.

The US currently ranks 28th out of 43 OECD countries in life expectancy and has the 12th highest infant mortality of the same countries.

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