US life expectancy drops again as drug overdose deaths climb to 70 000 in 2017

New York- Life expectancy in the United States dropped once again, after a shocking report that showed that the drug overdose deaths have continued to climb, more than 70,000 lives in 2017 were taken by drug overdose and suicides rose, according to US government report said Thursday.

The US  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics said the drug overdose rate increased by 9.6 percent compared to 2016, suicides also climbed 3.7 percent.

As a result, the average life span in America dropped to “78.6 years, a decrease of 0.1 year from 2016,” said the report.

The new data comes as the United States grapples with the widespread opioid epidemic, heightened by the addiction to prescription painkillers as well as street drugs like heroin and synthetic opioids including fentanyl.

“The latest CDC data show that the US life expectancy has declined over the past few years. Tragically, this troubling trend is largely driven by deaths from drug overdose and suicide,” said CDC director Robert Redfield.

“Life expectancy gives us a snapshot of the nation’s overall health and these sobering statistics are a wakeup call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable.”

In 2015, overdoses were the main reason that US life expectancy dropped slightly in 2015 for the first time in decades.

Another reason for the drop reported by the CDC in 2016, was due to revised data to show a flat year, said Robert Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch at the NCHS.

Overall, the statistics show a “downward trend in life expectancy since 2014,” a time period in which Americans have lost 0.3 years of life, he told AFP, describing the trend as “very concerning.”

 

“We’re a developed country, we have a lot of resources, we should have increasing life expectancy, not decreasing life expectancy,” he added.

Canadians live on average three years longer than Americans. Japan has the longest life expectancy in the world, at almost 84.

Drug overdose deaths from synthetic opioids like fentanyl, which was the reason for the deaths of musicians Prince and Tom Petty and tramadol increased by 45 percent between 2016 and 2017.

Heroin deaths are seven times higher than they were in 1999.

CDC figures showed that a total of 70,237 people died of overdoses in 2017, majority of the deaths are usually unintended.

Photo credit- The Standard

 

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