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Drop in US Life Expectancy of 1.5 Years Blamed on Drugs, Alcohol, Suicide

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By    |   Friday, 09 February 2018 07:29 AM

A drop in U.S. life expectancy – now 1.5 years under the average of other countries studied long term – is being blamed on drugs, alcohol, and suicide.

The new study in the journal BMJ released on Wednesday said America's life expectancy fell for the second year in a row as measured against other countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The U.S. once had the world's best life expectancy rate in 1960, at 2.4 years above the OECD average, but started losing ground in the 1980s and the average plateaued in 2012, the BMJ study reported.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the study said the nation's opioid crisis, which claimed 64,000 lives in 2015, could not be blamed alone for the fall.

Steven H. Woolf of Virginia Commonwealth University, who co-authored a companion editorial with the study, said alcohol abuse and suicides have also seen sharp increases in recent years.

"States are finding the biggest increases in death rates from drug overdoses, alcoholism and suicides are in rural counties, where residents have often struggled for years with stagnant wages, unemployment and poverty," Woolf said. "The social fabric of these communities is coming apart."

According to the study, the rate of fatal drug overdoses, pushed by the opioid crisis in the U.S., rose by 137 percent. The U.S. suicide rate increased by 24 percent from 1999 to 2014.

The study pointed out that while rural populations are suffering the brunt of death increases, they also have less access to health care and a lower quality of health care than those in metropolitan counties, the Times noted.

The study complained that health care policies that could be used to marshal resources to improve life expectancy in the U.S. have often gotten bogged down in politics.

"Ironically, leaders are outspoken about ending the opioid epidemic and bemoan spiraling and unsustainable health care costs," the study said. "Solutions to both problems — which involve investment to support struggling families and communities and thereby improve public health — are often rejected, usually by leaders with competing self-interests or ideological objections.”

"The consequences of these choices are dire: not only more deaths and illness but also escalating health care costs, a sicker workforce, and a less competitive economy. Future generations may pay the greatest price."

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A drop in U.S. life expectancy – now 1.5 years under the average of other countries studied long term – is being blamed on drugs, alcohol, and suicide.
drop, us, life expectancy, drugs, alcohol, suicide
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2018-29-09
Friday, 09 February 2018 07:29 AM
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