Personal Health

The Land of the limited possibilities of life

Deaths due to drugs, alcohol and suicides contribute significantly to the fact that in the United States, the life expectancy decreases. The reports by two U.S. researchers in the journal “Jama” .

Steven Woolf and Heidi Schoomaker have analyzed the life expectancy in the United States in the years 1959 to 2017 and identifies the grounds on which it stagnated at first and now even drops.

In 1959, the life expectancy was for a in the United States to the world, come Baby 69.9 years, in 2017, it was 78.6 years. The largest increase in life expectancy, the country recorded in the seventies. Already since the eighties, it rose much slower. As of 2011, it stagnated, since 2014, she drops even slightly from 78.9 78.6 years.

Schoomaker and the Woolf report that particularly the number of deaths in the age group between 25 and 64 years has increased , and especially drugs, alcohol, addiction, and suicide play a role. So seven out of every 100,000 people in this age group died approximately in the year 1999 of an Overdose, in the year 2017, compared to 32 in 100,000. But also a whole range of different diseases contributed to more Americans, in front of your 65. Birthday died.

What other possible causes are?

The health care system in the USA is one of the most expensive in the world, on a per capita basis. However, many people can not afford the treatments, because a basic health insurance for all citizens in the United States. Still, the two researchers are reluctant to see this as a cause for the decline in life expectancy. Because that could explain why the number of deaths of people up to the age of 65 by some diseases, with other but also strongly decreased. They note, however, that countries with a higher life expectancy than the USA are also better to allow your citizens access to health care.

Economic hardships wear from your point of view may be to Decrease the life expectancy in. Already in the Eighties and nineties, the number of deaths of under the age of 65 began to rise Year; only by positive Trends in other age groups, the life expectancy rose. In these decades, it came into the USA in some industries, a strong reduction of the gap between rich and poor was greater. In an accompanying comment in “Jama,” write three researchers, currently the life expectancy of the poorest one percent of the population and the richest one percent of men, 14 years apart, in the case of women 10 years.

Tobacco use remains an important factor, even if the number of smokers in the United States, meanwhile, drops. In previous years, was able to explain therefore the relatively high proportion of smokers to a large part of the lower life expectancy in the United States.

Overweight with possible associated diseases such as cardiovascular suffering, bears from the point of view of the researcher, also, is that the life expectancy decreases. However, countries such as Australia, where a similar number of people smoke, or are overweight, have recorded, in recent years, a larger increase in life expectancy than the USA.

Increasing psychological Stress could be one of the reasons for the increasing number of cases of death by drugs, alcohol and suicide. However, the two scientists are skeptical, because the data on the incidence of chronic Stress and mental illness is not clear. But there is evidence that the number increases of those who suffer from Stress, anxiety or Depression, particularly in young adults.

The Opioid epidemic, see the researchers, however, clearly one of the drivers for the Decline of the life expectancy. The number of drug-related deaths increased sharply after 1996, the painkillers Oxicontin came on the market. Patients who were dependent on the so-called Opioid, changed in part to Heroin, bringing the number of heroin addicts as a result of the increase.

What to do?

That there is not a single cause, but a whole range of possible reasons makes it more difficult to find and implement solutions. In the comment in the “Jama”, the scientists point out, among other things, to the fact that drug addicts are better cared for medically. In the face of rising suicide rates, the researchers write, we need “strategies to reduce self-injury in connection with access to firearms during emotional crises”. In a country with a less powerful gun lobby, you would have demanded at this point is probably just to regulate the possession of firearms more.

And how you can fight excess weight? “Bold changes need to support families and individuals to spend less time in front of the screen and to be active. The healthier food choice at home, in school or at work must also be the easier.” How to succeed in practice, not answer you, unfortunately.

Sure, the authors are aware, however, that now something needs to be done. Otherwise, the Decline in life expectancy in the USA would be a sad normality.