Life expectancy in the United States decreased slightly in 2017, while the 10 leading causes of death remained unchanged from the previous year. Health experts have attributed this change in part to suicides and drug overdoses.
according to November 29, 2018, report on the death rate in the United States Released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), overall life expectancy decreased from 78.7 years in 2016 to 78.6 in 2017. Male life expectancy decreased from 76.2 to 76.1, but remained unchanged for women at 81.1 years .
From 2016 to 2017, age-adjusted mortality rates rose for seven of the 10 leading causes of death, including unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, influenza, pneumonia, and suicide.
Related: Understanding Suicide – From Risk Factors to Prevention, and How to Get Help
The incidence of cancer decreased, which remained the second leading cause of death. The rates did not change significantly for heart disease, the leading cause of death, and kidney disease.
CDC releases reports of drug overdoses and suicides
The CDC also released two separate reports on Drug overdose deaths And the suicide deaths Between 1999 and 2017. According to reports, the death rate from drug overdose in 2017 was nearly 10 percent higher than it was in 2016, while the suicide rate increased by 3.7 percent.
“The latest CDC data shows that life expectancy in the United States has decreased over the past few years,” the CDC director said, Robert R. Redfield, MDin statement. “Tragically, this worrying trend is largely driven by drug overdose deaths and suicide.”
According to Jeff Lancashire, the CDC’s public affairs officer, “life expectancy also decreased between 2014 and 2015 and decreased on a few occasions over the decades.”
An epidemic of gigantic proportions
Caleb Alexander, MDThe number of deaths from overdose is alarming, says professor of epidemiology and director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Drug Safety and Efficacy in Baltimore. according to CDC, The rate of drug overdoses was 3.6 times in 2017 compared to 1999.
“This is an epidemic of gigantic proportions,” says Dr. Alexander. “Everyone is watching the numbers closely to try to understand when we will reach an inflection point.”
Alexander stresses that “obesity, heart disease and cancer remain major and critical public health challenges.” But he adds: “The tragedy of the opioid epidemic is that it is responsible for taking so many lives too soon. These are preventable deaths.”
An urgent call to reverse trends and save lives
Suicide has been the 10th leading cause of death for all ages in the United States since 2008. According to the CDC, the suicide rate rose 33 percent from 10.5 in 1999 to 14 people per 100,000 in 2017.
“Suicides, opioid deaths, gun violence, homicides — these kinds of deaths are what keep public health professionals, policy makers, and the general public up at night,” Alexander says. “The number of these deaths…underscores the urgent need for comprehensive and coordinated approaches to prevent further loss of life.”
Dr. Redfield echoed that sentiment in his statement, saying, “We must all work together to reverse this trend and help ensure that all Americans live longer and in better health.”