U.S. Life Expectancy Rises to All-Time High of Nearly 78 Years


kid-with-grandpaAmericans are living longer than ever before as deaths from heart disease and cancer drop, the government reported Wednesday. A baby born today in the United States can expect to live an average of 77.9 years, a year and a half more than a baby born 10 years ago.  In its new report on life and death in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said that for the first time, a black man can expect to see his 70th birthday.

Women continued to outlive men by five years, to an average of 80.

“Life expectancy has been increasing for a long time,” said Robert Anderson, head of the CDC’s mortality statistics branch.

“Aside from the occasional blip, we’re talking about increases over the last 100 years.”

Life span is going up because the death rate is dropping: 2,423,995 Americans died in 2007, the year the CDC examined; that’s 2,269 fewer than died in 2006.

It was the eighth-straight annual decline.

A key factor is the falling mortality rate from heart disease and cancer, the two leading causes of death, which together kill half of all Americans who die.

Deaths from heart disease dropped nearly 5% – likely thanks to better cholesterol drugs – and cancer deaths fell nearly 2%.

Deaths from flu and pneumonia also declined by a striking 8.4%, though that could change if dire predictions of the return of a killer swine flu are borne out. Homicide deaths declined by 6.5%.

On the downside, 49 countries, 30 of them major countries, have a better life expectancy than the United States.

In Japan, a new baby can expect to live to an average of 82 years old – 86 if it’s a girl – and citizens of Australia, Hong Kong, Canada, France, Israel, Italy and New Zealand all should live to an average of 80.

Across the world, life expectancy of all humans is 66.5, with citizens of many African countries dying, on average, under age 50. AIDS-ravaged Zimbabwe has an average life expectancy of only 39.7.

Life expectancy calculations include infant mortality, which is high in the developing world.

The United States ranks 46th in the world for infant mortality, with 6.7 babies dying per 100,000 births. For black babies, the rate is nearly double: 12.9 deaths per 100,000 births.

Singapore ranks first, with only 2.3 deaths per 100,000 births, and Angola ranks last, with 180 deaths, according to the CIA World Factbook.

CDC scientists looked at 60% of death certificates filed in the United States in 2007.

{AP via NY Daily News/Noam Amdurski-Matzav.com Newscenter}