For the first time in more than two decades, life expectancy for Americans declined last year (Source: “U.S. life expectancy declines for the first time since 1993,” Washington Post, Dec. 8, 2016).
Rising fatalities from heart disease and stroke, diabetes, drug overdoses, accidents and other conditions caused the lower life expectancy revealed in a report released Thursday by the National Center for Health Statistics. In all, death rates rose for eight of the top 10 leading causes of death.
Overall, life expectancy fell by one-tenth of a year, from 78.9 in 2014 to 78.8 in 2015, according to the latest data. The last time U.S. life expectancy at birth declined was in 1993, when it dropped from 75.6 to 75.4, according to World Bank data.
The overall death rate rose 1.2 percent in 2015, its first uptick since 1999. More than 2.7 million people died, about 45 percent of them from heart disease or cancer.
The report’s lone bright spot was a drop in the death rate from cancer, probably because fewer people are smoking, the disease is being detected earlier and new treatments have been developed recently, experts said.