Source: Huffington Post
By Nick Wing
The average American life expectancy ticked downward for the second straight year in 2016, on the back of surging drug overdose deaths, according to data released Thursday by the National Center for Health Statistics at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And while the nation hasn’t experienced a back-to-back drop in life expectancy since the 1960s, the CDC says the opioid crisis is shaping up to extend this decline for a third consecutive year, a milestone that hasn’t been seen since the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918.
U.S. life expectancy fell to an average of 78.6 years in 2016, dropping 0.1 for the second year in a row, according to the CDC report. The slide was driven by higher death rates among young and middle-aged Americans, with those aged 25-34 experiencing the largest increase. The death rate among Americans aged 65 and older actually inched downward between 2015 and 2016.
The overall decline in longevity came as drug overdose deaths exploded in 2016 to a total of 63,600, around 42,000 of which involved opioids, according to CDC data. Although these numbers have been rising steadily since 1999, the 21 percent jump in deaths over 2015 was the largest annual increase so far. Drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl and fentanyl analogs have increased an average of 88 percent each year from 2013 to 2016, helping to drive the surge.