Life expectancy drops to lowest since 1996

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By , Audacy

According to new federal data, the life expectancy level in the U.S. is alarmingly low.

The average American is now expected to live 76 years, 4 months, 3 weeks, and 1 day.

Life expectancy in the United States has plummeted this decade, and part of the reason why is the COVID-19 pandemic and drug overdose deaths, according to final mortality data released at the end of 2022.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics published two new reports in December that found the death rate has jumped by 5.3% In 2021, the death rate was 879.7 per 100,00 people, up from 835.4 per 100,00 in 2020.

This now marks the second year in a row that life expectancy has decreased, dropping from 77 years in 2020, to 76.4 years in 2021.

Currently, life expectancy in the United States is the lowest that it has been this century, with 1996 marking the last year that it was lower. Life expectancy has been on the downward slope since 2020, when the figure dropped by 1.8 years.

The authors of the report cited the pandemic and drug overdose deaths as the main reasons behind the decrease.

But life expectancy was not the same across the board, as while men and women both saw roughly the same decrease of around 0.6 years, with women now expected to live 79.3 years and men 73.5 years, not every racial and ethnic group saw similar results.

In fact, the only decreases seen among different racial groups were Hispanic and Black men, according to the report.

As for what was responsible for claiming the lives of Americans this year, heart disease, cancer and COVID-19 were the main causes of death in the U.S.

Drug overdoses were another reason for the decrease in life expectancy, as 2021 saw 106,699 overdose deaths for a rate of 32.4 per 100,000 people. In 2020 this number was 28.3 per 100,000. Currently, drug overdose deaths are responsible for 33% of all accidental deaths in the country.

Leading the cause of overdoses is fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that has flood headlines due to its potency and the dangers of taking it. The report found that 22% more drug overdose deaths were caused by the drug in 2021 compared to 2020.

An extra level of danger is added to fentanyl, as it is often sold to drug users who think they are purchasing something else, like Percocet, Xanax, and Adderall. Fentanyl is also often found mixed into heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine.

Nonetheless, when it comes to who is dying from drug overdoses, women saw a rate increase of 15%, while men dying from drug overdoses increased 14%.

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