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U.S. Lifespan Hits Record High

Americans are living longer than ever, according to new government statistics.

The National Center for Health Statistics released its annual report on deaths and life expectancy yesterday, with the latest data for 2007 showing that overall the average U.S. lifespan had hit a record high of 77.9 years.

That's up from 77.7 in 2006 and represents a continuation of a long-term trend. Over the past decade, life expectancy has increased 1.4 years -- from 76.5 in 1997 to 77.9 in 2007.

Life expectancy hit record highs for both men and women, rising from 75.1 to 75.3 for men and from 80.2 to 80.4 for women, the report found. While the gap between male and female life expectancy has narrowed since the peak of 7.8 years in 1979, the 5.1- year difference in 2007 was the same as in 2006.

Blacks continue to have lower life expectancy than whites, but they have reached record highs as well. Black males life expectancy rose from 69.7 to 70.2 and black females from 76.5 to 77. The gap between white and black life expectancy narrowed by 0.4 years. It was 78.2 years among whites and 73.2 among blacks in 2006. In 2007, it was 78.3 among whites and 73.7 among blacks.

White females have the highest life expectancy (80.7), followed by black females (77), white males (75.8) and black males (70.2) -- a pattern that has not changed since 1976.

Overall, the age-adjusted death rate in the United States fell for the eighth straight year to an all-time low of 760.3 deaths per 100,000 -- a 2.1 percent drop from 776.5 in 2006 and half of what it was 60 years ago.

Mortality rates declined significantly for eight of the 15 leading causes of death, including declines in death of 8.4 percent decline from influenza and pneumonia, 6.5 percent decline from homicides, 5 percent decline from accidents, 4.7 percent from heart disease, 4.6 percent from stroke, 3.9 percent from diabetes, 2.7 percent from high blood pressure and 1.8 percent drop from cancer.

There was also a 10 percent drop in deaths from HIV and AIDS between 2006 and 2007 -- the biggest one-year fall since 1998. HIV, however, remains the leading cause of death among 25 to 44 year olds.

By Rob Stein  |  August 20, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Family Health , General Health  
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Dang...between the fat people and the chemicals we're all ingesting 24/7, you think we'd be keeling over sooner. Huh.

Posted by: byte1 | August 20, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Rob Stein, please recheck your facts about "HIV, however, remains the leading cause of death among 25 to 44 year olds."

Specifically, you should read page 30 of the report where they state HIV is the SIXTH leading cause of death.

Posted by: wolfcastle | August 20, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Woohoo! That 77.9-year life expectancy puts the US at ... #50 among all nations, right in front of Albania.

But hey, we have the "best healthcare in the world."


Posted by: DupontJay | August 20, 2009 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Big deal. We live longer as the quality of life declines. And as one poster noted, we're still way down the list, so what's there to brag about?

Posted by: dlkimura | August 20, 2009 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Like the other posters, I would like to see a study about the quality of life as people age - if I'm not mistaken, medicine is keeping us alive longer, but we are getting sicker sooner and spending more of our later years in life fighting our deteriorating health. What's the point of being 80 if your quality of life has been bad for 20 years?

Posted by: JJ321 | August 21, 2009 7:56 AM | Report abuse

According to the CIA World Fact Book, however, the US ranks number 50 in the world in life expectancy.
This is behind many EU countries with "socalist" health care and equally greasy diets of fried foods.

Posted by: coloradodog | August 21, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Being 50(ish) I have been constantly increasing my estimate of my own lifespan; when I was young, 70 seemed ancient and I knew few who lived much longer than that. My father had planned to retire from his state job at 55, with the hopes that he'd have another 10-15 years to enjoy his children and possibly his grandchildren.

Now, I'm looking at retiring at 70 but might make it later, for fear of outliving my retirement savings. Given my current state of health, I could easily make it to 90 or 100 - can't complain about that, right?

Still, what if everyone starts enjoying a 20-year or 30-year retirement? Will private pension plans and public funds be able to keep up?

Posted by: drmary | August 21, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

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