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Spike in opioid overdoses causes drop in life expectancy

Spike in opioid overdoses causes drop in life expectancy

The national health agency recently released new information regarding life expectancy and death in the United States, and the news on the inevitable is, frankly, a huge downer. Fatal overdoses that involved fentanyl and fentanyl-like drugs doubled in one year, to more than 19,000, mostly from illegally made pills or powder, which is often mixed with heroin or other drugs. While that drop may not seem like much, it's the second time in as many years life expectancy has gone down: In 2014, the figure was projected at 78.9 years.

According to the CDC, life expectancy for the USA population in 2016 was 78.6 years, a decrease of 0.1 year from 2015.

Adults aged 25-54 had the highest rate of overdose deaths.

Men were far more likely to die from drug overdoses than women were, but other reports have found a growing number of opiate overdoses among women. Typically, life expectancy goes back up after a one-year decline, said Robert Anderson, who oversees the CDC's death statistics.

"If we don't get a handle on this", he said, "we could very well see a third year in a row". The last time USA life expectancy last fell two years in a row was in 1962 and 1963, as the generation who came of age in World War II began to die of heart disease and cigarette-related cancers, according to Princeton University economist Angus Deaton, who spoke to Buzzfeed.

A three-year decline happened in 1916, 1917 and 1918, which included the worst flu pandemic in modern history. The most common cause of death: heart disease.

The CDC also reported that West Virginia continued to be the state with the highest drug overdose death rate followed by OH and New Hampshire.

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Suicide in the USA rose in 2016 and gun deaths also increased for a second year.

"Demographically, we should be in the middle of a mini baby boomlet, just given the age of the population and the size of the millennials, but we're not". OH and New Hampshire were next, both at about 39 per 100,000.

"The new report shows the decline in life expectancy occurred despite an overall decline in US mortality", the statement added. Contributing were increases in deaths from auto crashes and falls.

"The 10 leading causes of infant death in 2016 accounted for 67.5 percent of all infant deaths in the United States", the report stated. In 2016, accidents replaced chronic lower respiratory diseases as the third leading cause of death, the report said.

For U.S. males, life expectancy fell from 76.3 to 76.1 years, while females' life expectancy remained at 81.1 years.

The team also looked at the infant mortality rate, which barely changed in 2016 but which also falls behind the records of other developed countries. They had been hovering around 33,500 deaths a few years ago. Highest is Japan, at almost 84 years; the lowest is South Africa at 57.

"Fentanyl is king now", said Dr. Dan Ciccarone, an epidemiologist at the University of California-San Francisco who studies the epidemic.

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