American Life Expectancy Is Still Dropping. But Why?

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Good afternoon, readers.

“U.S. life expectancy has not kept pace with that of other wealthy countries and is now decreasing.”

That grim conclusion comes from a new study by researchers from the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine.

It’s the latest study attempting to unravel the mystery of falling U.S. life expectancy. As the researchers note, life expectancy has seen a dropoff since 2014 (it stood at about 78.6 years, on average, in 2017 compared with 78.9 years in 2016).

That may read like a blip, but it’s a serious decline—especially considering that life expectancy had consistently grown over the previous 50 years.

So what’s causing this tragic trend? The researchers point to a number of potential culprits: Drug overdoses, suicides, and organ system diseases (the kinds of disorders affecting the heart and lungs, or potentially linked with conditions such as diabetes).

This early mortality spike is also concentrated among certain groups, according to the study, especially younger and middle-aged people. And the largest relative mortality increases have occurred in the Ohio Valley and New England (regions that have had to grapple with opioid addiction).

The public health costs here are clearly unsustainable. The literal loss of life is a catastrophe.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


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