New data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that life expectancy in the United States increased in 2018, largest due to a decline in fatal drug overdoses and a fall in deaths related to cancer. Image Credit: Olena Yakobchuk/Shutterstock.com
This is the first time since 2014 that life expectancy has risen, however, it is not good news all round as some causes of death has reported an uptick, suicide, for example, has increased during this period.
In 2018, the life expectancy at birth was 78.7 , an increment of 0.1 years on the 2017 figure. While this seems insignificant, experts explain that for a large population that figure represents a vast number of people avoiding premature deaths.
While this is good news, life expectancy is still lower than it was when it met its all-time high in the US in 2014, with the average lifespan being 78.9 years. Following this, 2015 saw it fall, stall at this figure in 2016, and fall again in 2017. A rising number of deaths attributed to drug overdoses has been attributed to this fall in life expectancy. Tackling drug overdoses major driver of increasing life expectancy
2018 saw a 4.1% fall in drug overdose-related deaths compared with 2017, representing the first fall in this kind of death since 1999. Given that drug overdoses are one of the 10 leading causes of death in the US, this decrease has significantly affected life expectancy.
While the data is positive, showing that the country is making an impact in addressing unnecessary deaths from drug overdoses, experts highlight that there is still a long way to go, and that a one-year dip is not enough to signify a change in trend. In 2018, over 67,000 people still lost their lives to drug overdoses, representing a huge portion of the population needlessly dying.
While overdoses of some drugs have fallen, such as methadone and heroin , there has been an increase in deaths related to other substances, such as synthetic opioids such as fentanyl which rose by 10% between 2017 and 2018, and stimulants like cocaine which rose by 27% between 2012 to 2018 , and methamphetamine which increased by 30% over the same period. Related Stories
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