Life Expectancy Drops, Here's Why

Life Expectancy Drops, Here's Why

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Life expectancy in the U.S. is going down and it has researchers shaking their heads.

"Given that we are a developed country and we have a lot of resources, there's no no reason why we should have a declining life expectancy," said Bob Anderson, mortality statistics branch chief, National Center for Health Statistics. 

In fact, the U.S. hasn't seen a declining trend like this since World War I.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, or CDC, last year more than 2.8 million people died, an increase from the year before.

As of 2017, the average life span is 78.6.

One major factor is drug overdoses. In 2017, there were more than 70,000 overdose deaths in the country, up from 2016.

"I think it shows how powerful the drug issue is and the need to address it. When you make advances on certain fronts, another thing comes along. Of late, it's fentanyl," said Steve Jennings, Jefferson County Public Health planner. 

Drug overdoses have also caused the deaths of more younger people.

The death rate of those between the ages of 25 and 44 rose significantly between 2016 and 2017.

Anita Seefried-Brown with the Alliance for Better Communities says this makes sense as more people become addicted at an earlier age.

"The use of prescription medications is exploding and we also know that particular age group of 18 to 25 is much more prone to begin experimenting with heroin as well," she said.

Another major contributor to declining life expectancy is the rising rate of suicides, which took more than 47,000 lives last year. Again, it's another increase from the year before.

Last year's suicide rate was the highest the CDC has seen in the last 50 years.

The top three causes of death in the U.S. are heart disease, cancer, and accidents. The number of people who died last year as a result of those causes also increased from 2016. 

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