The expected life span continued to decline in the US in 2017 and has accumulated in recent years historical deterioration mainly due to the overdose crisis, according to health statistics released Thursday.
"This is the first time we've seen a downward trend from the 1918 influenza epidemic ", says Robert Anderson, head of mortality statistics at the National Health Statistics Center, which reveals data. Anderson noted that the fall was much stronger in 1918.
In 2017, The expected duration of life at birth was 76.1 years for men and 81.1 years for women. The average for the population is 78.6 years, compared with 78.9 in 2014.
Also, are three and a half years less than in Canada, on the other side of the border, and this is also affected by overdose.
"These statistics warn us and show that we are quickly losing many Americans for reasons that can be avoided", said Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Robert Redfield.
In 2017, some 70,000 Americans died of drug overdose, which is 10 percent more than in 2016.
In terms of deaths, Anderson compared this situation with the rise in the HIV epidemic, but with the difference: which quickly declined. The statistic expects an overdose to follow the same path. "We are a developed country, the expected life span must be increased, not reduced"he said.
Of 35 OECD countries, only Iceland has recently recorded a decrease in life expectancy by numbers by 2016. In other places, he has increased or stagnated.
Suicides also rose in 2017 in the United States.
There are two categories of overdose. On the one hand, non-opioid medicines, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, and other psychostimulants: for those who died approximately 27,000 people
But the increase is largely due to the second category: opiates.
This includes heroin, morphine, and so-called semi-synthetic opiates, such as oxycodone, anti-prescription drugs, but sold on the black market with the help of compassionate doctors and laboratories who claim to ignore the problem and which are usually the gateway to addiction.
Lately, most of the deaths come from a new generation of drugs: synthetic opiates, such as fentanyl, dozens of times stronger than heroin, making the smallest dose error fatal.
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The mortality rate from synthetic opiates doubled from 2015 to 2016. Last year it increased by 45%.
But figures in 2017 revealed details that give relative hope: the number of overdosages continues to grow, but at a slower pace.
Preliminary data for 2018 even indicate that the crisis peaked this year. "But it's hard to say", because for now there are only data of several months, said cautious Robert Anderson.
In Staten Island, New York, Dr. Harshall Kirenne, director of the Dependency Service, avoids jumping to conclusions. "It's encouraging to see that the trajectory is curved, no doubt," he told AFP. "But 70,000 dead, it's still hard to digest."
In this plague, the whole country is not equally affected. The situation in the center, from Texas to South Dakota, is relatively safe.
The crisis is acute in New England, in the northeast corner, where overdose deaths provide more than a quarter of donations to organs, rivaling traffic accidents.
It is also very strong in two states of the old industrial belt (Ohio and Pennsylvania), and especially in the poor West Virginia, which is on the front side with the sad number of 58 deaths for each 100,000 people, compared with a national average of 22.