Bloomberg

Americans living longer as fewer die from heart disease, cancer

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The life expectancy in the United States has increased 1.9 years since the start of the century, though it was unchanged from 2010 to 2011, the last time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released figures.

NEW YORK

A baby born in 2012 will live to a record 78.8 years old on average, as U.S. life expectancy grew and fewer Americans are dying from heart disease, cancer and other chronic illnesses.

That's a gain of about one month compared to 2011, according to a report released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Average life expectancy for women was 81.2 years. Men will live an average of 76.4 years.

The life expectancy in the United States has increased 1.9 years since the start of the century, though it was unchanged from 2010 to 2011, the last time the agency released figures.

"We continue to follow the pattern that we have been seeing for a few decades, where life expectancy is gradually increasing and death rates from the leading causes of death are decreasing," said Elizabeth Arias, a demographer at the CDC and an author of the paper.

Eight of the 10 main causes of death fell, including a 1.8 percent reduction in heart disease-related deaths and a 1.5 percent drop in cancer deaths. The rate of suicides, however, rose by 2.4 percent. Heart disease and cancer account for about half of all deaths, Arias said.

The infant mortality rate, which counts the ratio of infant deaths to births, has also improved, with 8.9 fewer infant deaths per 100,000 live births in 2012 compared to 2011.

While most groups saw gains, the death rate among Hispanic males and females was unchanged. The biggest decline in mortality was among black women, according to the data, which is collected by the National Center for Health Statistics and based of nearly every U.S. death certificate.

The life expectancy for an infant is based on the assumption that the death rate remains the same for the entire life of the child, though that is unlikely since the death rate has been on the decline for decades, Arias said.

(c) 2014, Bloomberg News.

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