For the first time since the government began tracking the life expectancy of U.S. residents more than 100 years ago, there’s been a demographic switch. Currently, records show white women are dying at a slightly younger age, while the life expectancy for black men increased during the last year, according to a new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), NPR reports.
The center’s findings showed average life expectancy for non-Hispanic black men shot up by about six months since 2013, from 71.8 years to 72.2 years. Researchers linked the improvement to declines in cancer deaths, homicides and heart disease among African Americans in general.
During the same time period, life expectancy for non-Hispanic white women declined by about one month, from 81.2 to 81.1 years. Demographers blamed unintentional poisonings from drugs and alcohol and upticks in chronic liver disease and suicides for the decrease.
Notably, the NCHS report follows a separate study published by Princeton economists showing a rise in middle-age mortality rates among white people in the United States as a whole because of increased drug overdoses from heroin and prescription painkillers.
“There are people for whom life expectancy is falling — and that’s happening at a time where everywhere else and for every other group we’re seeing all these amazing gains in survival,” commented Ellen Meara, a professor at Dartmouth’s Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practices. (The NCHS report also showed mortality declined in the U.S. Latino population.)
Did you know obesity can reduce the life expectancy of African-American men by up to 20 years? Click here for more information.