This are surely not good news for the United states as life expectancy at birth declined for the second consecutive year in 2016, fuelled by a staggering 21 percent rise in the death rate from drug overdoses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Thursday.
The United States has not seen two years of declining life expectancy since 1962 and 1963, when influenza caused an inordinate number of deaths. In 1993, there was a one-year drop during the worst of the AIDS epidemic.
“I think we should take it very seriously,” said Bob Anderson, chief of the Mortality Statistics Branch at the National Center for Health Statistics, which is part of the CDC. “If you look at the other developed countries in the world, they're not seeing this kind of thing. Life expectancy is going up.
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The development is a dismal sign for the United States, which boasts some of the world's highest spending on medical care, and more evidence of the toll the nation's opioid crisis is exacting on younger and middle-aged Americans, experts said.
More than 42,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses alone in 2016, a 28 percent increase over 2015. When deaths from drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine and benzodiazepines are included, the overall increase was 21 percent.
A multiyear decline in life expectancy is more commonly associated with AIDS epidemics in southern and eastern Africa or wars in Syria and Afghanistan, said Majid Ezzati, a professor of public health at Imperial College London who has studied life expectancy.