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Declining US life expectancy is driven by more than just opioids, study finds

BMJ 2019; 367 doi: (Published 29 November 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l6753
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. Montreal

The United States began to fall behind other rich countries in improving life expectancy long before the opioid epidemic gathered steam around the turn of the millennium, says an analysis published in JAMA,1 and opioid deaths are just one of several factors contributing to increased mortality among US people of working age.

The country has matched other wealthy nations in cutting its death toll from big killers such as cancer, ischaemic heart disease, and AIDS, but these gains have been undermined by an increasing toll from drug overdose, suicide, liver disease, and lung diseases, the study finds.

“There has been an increase in death rates among working age Americans,” the lead author, Steven Woolf, told ABC News. “This is an emergent crisis, and it is a uniquely American problem since it is not seen in other …

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