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People in U.S. Living Longer

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    NHNE News List Current Members: 1149 Subscribe/unsubscribe/archive info at the bottom of this message. ... PEOPLE IN U.S. LIVING LONGER By Rosie Mestel, Los
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 5, 2005
      NHNE News List
      Current Members: 1149
      Subscribe/unsubscribe/archive info at the bottom of this message.


      By Rosie Mestel,
      Los Angeles Times
      March 1, 2005


      Americans are living longer than ever before ‹ for an average of 77.6 years
      ‹ and the life expectancy of men is drawing closer to that of women,
      according to government statistics released Monday.

      Death rates from conditions such as heart disease and cancer appear to be
      declining, while those from others, such as Alzheimer's disease and
      Parkinson's disease, have risen slightly.

      The report, released by the government's National Center for Health
      Statistics, is based on more than 2.4 million death certificates issued in
      2003, the latest year for which figures are available. The number represents
      about 93% of all certificates.

      The statistics revealed that life expectancy had increased by nearly four
      months from the 2002 figure of 77.3 years.

      The gap between women and men narrowed slightly, from 5.4 years in 2002 to
      5.3 years in 2003, continuing an equalizing trend that has been observed
      since 1979.

      The report did not reveal the reasons for mortality changes, said Bob
      Anderson, chief of the center's mortality statistics branch, who oversaw the

      A large part of the narrowing gap between men and women could be
      attributable to differences in deaths from heart disease, which with lung
      cancer accounts for more than half of all deaths in the U.S. each year.

      "Men are making better progress with respect to heart disease than are
      women," Anderson said.

      Dr. Arthur Reingold, professor of epidemiology at UC Berkeley's School of
      Public Health, noted the lung cancer mortality rate was going up in women
      while it had flattened out with men. That is because women began smoking en
      masse later than men did and are reaping the consequences later, he said.

      The study also found that infant mortality rates ‹ which had risen slightly
      in 2002 for the first time in 44 years ‹ remained at that heightened rate.
      This implies that the 2002 finding was real and not a statistical blip.

      Death rates declined for several major causes of death. Heart disease deaths
      dropped by 3.6%, cancer by 2.2%, suicide by 3.7% and flu and pneumonia by
      3.1%. HIV-related deaths fell by 4.1%.

      Death rates, however, increased for hypertension by 5.7% and kidney disease
      by 2.1%.

      Anderson and Reingold said it was unclear how to explain increased death
      rates from Alzheimer's (up 5.9%) and Parkinson's (up 3.3%). The population's
      aging cannot explain them, because the statistics were adjusted to take age
      into account.

      There could be changes in what doctors put on death certificates because of
      increased familiarity with certain disorders, they said.

      Dr. Abraham Lieberman, a University of Miami neurologist and medical
      director of the National Parkinson Foundation, said estimates of U.S. cases
      of Parkinson's disease could vary from half a million to 1 million.

      "When you have that sort of a discrepancy Š you're a little leery about
      saying there's been an increase or decrease in the number of people with
      Parkinson's disease," he said.


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