Scary reason for drop in life expectancy

THE life expectancy for Americans just fell for the second time in as many years, which is the first time the national average has fallen in two consecutive years since the early 1960s.

Based on the finding, a baby born in 2016 is now expected to live 78.6 years - down from 78.7 from the year prior.

While only a relatively small drop, the finding is significant because the decline is the result of one obvious cause, not a complicated mix of factors as seen in the past.

The National Center for Health Statistics noted that even though a greater percentage of the population died in 2015, the life expectancy average decreased because of America 's opioids problem.

Deaths via drug overdose climbed a whopping 21 per cent, with more than 63,000 people dying from drug overdoses in 2016 - 42,200 of these cases were attributed to opioids.

The rate of drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids also rose from 3.1 per 100,000 in 2015 to 6.2 per 100,000 in 2016.

Chief of the mortality statistics branch at the National Center for Health Statistics Robert Anderson said these drug related deaths had directly nudged down the life expectancy.

"I'm not prone to dramatic statements, but I think we should be really alarmed," he told NPR.

"The drug overdose problem is a public health problem, and it needs to be addressed. We need to get a handle on it."

Mr Anderson said the last time the US life expectancy dropped was in 1993 because of the AIDS epidemic and even though this years decrease is only minor it's still very concerning.

"For any individual, that's not a whole lot. But when you're talking about it in terms of a population, you're talking about a significant number of potential lives that aren't being lived," he said.

Sociologist Arun Hendi said the US "urgently" needs to cut off the supply of opioids flooding the market.

"I was pretty shocked to see that our life expectancy has declined for the second year in a row," he said. "I think we should be very worried."



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