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News of the Day ... in Perspective


U.S. life expectancy reaches record high

As deaths from heart disease and cancer declined, U.S. life expectancy rose from 77.3 years in 2002 to a record high of 77.6 years in 2003, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Women live longer than men, but the gender disparity narrowed from 7.8 years in 1979 to 5.3 years.

In 2003, white women lived an average of 80.5 years while black women lived an average of 76.1 years. White men lived an average of 75.4 years and black men an average of 69.2 years.

Deaths from heart disease fell by 3.6%, from cancer by 2.2%, from stroke by 4.6%, and from pneumonia and influenza by 3.1%. A large decline in pneumonia deaths offset a 150% increase in influenza deaths.

Increases occurred in death from Parkinsonís disease (up 3.4%), Alzheimer disease (up 5.9%), and kidney disease and hypertension (up 5.7%).

Infant mortality remained about the same as in 2002: 6.9 deaths per 1,000 live births. The first increase in infant mortality in 44 years occurred in 2002 (Wall St J, 3/1/05).

Additional information:

How Not to Judge Our Health Care System, NCPA Brief Analysis No. 141, 11/15/94: nations with higher life expectancies have a different ethnic mix.

U.S. Life Tables, showing trends since 1900

International infant mortality statistics

False claims on Cuban medicine, October 2000

Socialized medicine and infant mortality, AAPS News, March 1992.

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