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Good News! Life Expectancy Finally Increases as Fewer Die From This


For the first time in four years, people in the United States are living longer, on average.  The average life expectancy inched-up only a tiny bit, and still below the peak, but it's a move in the right direction.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its most recent data on mortality in the United States which tabulates the number and causes of death from the year 2018. 

Americans were expected to live to age 78.7 years old in 2018.  This is an increase of 0.1 year, just over a month, from 2017, when life expectancy was 78.6 years.  Broken down by gender, the life expectancy for women in 2018 was 81 years and one month, while for men it's 76 years and two months.

The highest life expectancy average on record was 78.9 years.  


America's top ten leading causes of death account for nearly three-fourths of all deaths in the United States.  In 2018, deaths from six of them decreased, two remained the same, and two increased. 

For the first time in nearly thirty years, the number of people to die from drug overdoses decreased.  In 2017, 70,237 people died from a drug overdose, the highest on record.  In 2018, 67,367 died in that manner, a one-year decrease of more than 4%. 

The decline in drug overdose deaths offers slight encouragement that efforts to curb the opioid epidemic, such as a crack-down on physicians prescribing opioids and the wide distribution of the anti-overdose drug Narcan, are having some impact.  However, while the rate of overdose deaths from heroin and prescription pain killers was down, overdose deaths from fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamines increased.  

"This news is a real victory," US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement. "The drop in overdose deaths shows that the President's new level of focus on the opioid crisis, and the administration's science- and community-based efforts to combat it, are beginning to make a significant difference."

The states with the highest number of drug overdose death rates in 2018 were West Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio and New Hampshire, in that order.  

The states with the lowest drug overdose death rates in 2018 were South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, North Dakota and Texas, in that order. 

While the decrease in deaths from drug overdoses helped lift the overall life expectancy, it was only the second biggest contributor to the change.  


The leading contributor to the increased life expectancy was fewer deaths from cancer.  Cancer claims the lives of approximately 600,000 American each year.  The number of people dying from cancer in 2018 dropped 2.2% over the previous year, marking the most significant reduction of all causes of death.   

Other reductions included a 0.8% drop in deaths from heart disease, America's number one killer, a 2.9% decline in deaths from chronic lower respiratory diseases, 1.3% decline for stroke and 1.6% decline for Alzheimer's disease. 

There was no change in the death rate of people who died from kidney disease and diabetes.

America saw a 4.2% increase in deaths from influenza and pneumonia and a 1.4% increase in suicide. 

Overall, 2.8 million Americans died in the year 2018.


  1. Heart disease
  2. Cancer
  3. Unintentional injuries (car accidents/drug overdoses)
  4. Chronic lower respiratory diseases
  5. Stroke
  6. Alzheimer's disease
  7. Diabetes
  8. Influenza and pneumonia
  9. Kidney disease
  10. Suicide


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