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The Latest Stats on American Men's Lifespan Are Alarming

Deaths of despair are part of the downward trend.

by Tim Marcin
Nov 1 2019, 1:51pm

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American men are dying younger and younger.

Their life expectancy has dropped for the third straight year, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The newly released data shows that in 2017, the average male lifespan dropped to 76.1 years, down from 76.2 in 2016 and 76.5 just in 2014.

The lifespan for women, meanwhile, held steady at 81.1 years — the exact same as it was in 2016 and 2015.

There’s no one reason life expectancy for men is falling, but part of the decline is due to so-called deaths of despair, such as drug overdoses. From 2007 to 2017, the death rate from drug overdoses nearly doubled, from 11.9 to 21.7 deaths per 100,000. The data showed that men die by overdose at about twice the rate women do, and that it is especially a problem for young men. Among men between 25 and 34, the death rate for drug overdoses was 54.3 per 100,000, the highest figure for any age group.

The number of deaths by suicide has risen sharply as well, especially among men. The death rate for suicide among men was 22.4 per 100,000, while just 6.1 per 100,000 for women. That rate was even higher among white men, at 25.1 deaths per 100,000.

Americans are dying younger even as the U.S. spends more on health care than any other country. That’s partially because outcomes for the rich and the poor are vastly different, CBS reported: wealthy Americans are far more likely to make it into their 70s and 80s.

Overall, American men can still expect to live a bit longer than the average man worldwide. The average man across the world lives to be 69.8, while the average woman lives to 74.2, according to the World Health Organization.

While deaths from overdoses and suicide are up, there were some hopeful notes in the CDC report. Death rates from heart disease and cancer — the two most common causes of death — have dropped by about 15 percent over the last decade.

Cover: In this Oct. 22, 2018 file photo, a fentanyl user holds a needle near Kensington and Cambria in Philadelphia. Suicides and drug overdoses helped lead a surge in U.S. deaths last year, and drove a continuing decline in how long Americans are expected to live. U.S. health officials released the latest numbers Thursday, Nov. 29. (David Maialetti/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP, File)

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suicide
healthcare
overdoses
deaths of despair
American men