Life expectancy in the United States again declined, as the death rate from drug overdose continued to grow — more than 70,000 lives were reached in 2017, and suicides increased, according to a report by the US government on Thursday.
The drug overdose rate increased by 9.6 percent compared to 2016, while suicide increased by 3.7 percent, the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.
As a result, the average life expectancy in America fell to “78.6 years, which is 0.1 years from 2016,” the report says.
The data comes in when the United States is faced with a huge opioid epidemic caused by an addiction to painkillers, as well as street drugs such as heroin and synthetic opioids, including fentanyl.
“The latest CDC data show that life expectancy in the United States has declined over the past few years. Unfortunately, this alarming trend is largely due to the deaths of drug overdose and suicide, ”said CDC director Robert Redfield.
“Life expectancy gives us a snapshot of the nation’s overall health, and this sobering statistic is a wake-up call that we lose too many Americans, too early and too often, in conditions that can be prevented.”
– “Very concerning” trends –
Overdose was a major factor when life expectancy in the United States declined slightly in 2015 for the first time in decades.
Another flaw was reported to the CDC in 2016, although this data was subsequently revised to show a flat year, said Robert Anderson, head of the mortality statistics department at NCHS.
Overall, the statistics show a “downward trend in life expectancy from 2014,” a period during which Americans lost 0.3 years of life, he told AFP, calling this trend “very relevant.”
Anderson said that this kind of decline was not observed after the big pandemic of the flu of 1918 and the First World War, although these losses were steeper.
The peak of the HIV / AIDS epidemic in the 1980s also saw a nationwide decline in life expectancy.
“We are a developed country, we have a lot of resources, we have to increase life expectancy, and not reduce life expectancy,” he added.
Canadians live an average of three years longer than Americans. In Japan, the longest life expectancy in the world is almost 84.
– “It's hard to digest” –
Deaths from a drug overdose from synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, which killed the musicians Prince and Tom Petty, and tramadol increased by 45 percent between 2016 and 2017.
The death rate from heroin was seven times higher than in 1999.
CDC indicators showed that 70,237 people died from overdose in 2017.
Most of these deaths were unintentional in nature.
Growth, albeit impressive at nearly 10 percent year-on-year, was about half as much as a year earlier.
In 2016, overdose compared to 2015, 21.6% more people.
Separately released preliminary government data for the first part of 2018 also showed that the overdose mortality rate is decreasing.
Minister of Health and Social Services Alex Azar said at a health conference in October, when these data emerged that "the seemingly relentless trend of rising overdose mortality seems to be finally bending in the right direction."
But experts urged caution in interpreting the results to mean that the opioid epidemic had peaked or was somewhere near the end.
“It is gratifying to see that the trajectory of this beginning has undoubtedly diminished,” said Harshall Kiran, director of drug abuse at Staten Island University Hospital in New York, who did not participate in data collection.
“What would be a signal for some real change would be when the total number of deaths from overdose on an annualized basis actually decreases,” he told AFP.
"Seventy thousand deaths are hard to digest as a positive result."