New Study Reveals Causes of Lower American Life Expectancy
"Guns, drugs and motor vehicle crashes account for half of the life-expectancy gap between men in the United States and other high-income countries, according to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association," writes Carolyn Y. Johnson, a reporter covering the business of health for The Washington Post.
The circle chart shows how much each of the causes reduces life expectancy in men:
- Gun violence: 5.4 months
- Drug poisoning, which includes overdoses: 3.6 months
- Motor vehicle crashes: 3.4 months
A corresponding chart points to the same three reasons for lower life expectancy for American women, though the number of months is smaller. Drugs, motor vehicles, and guns, in that order, are the main causes.
The study is significant because American medicine may be focusing on the wrong causes for the lower life expectancy in the United States, "about 2.2 years earlier than their counterparts in a dozen other high-income countries, according to 2012 data," writes Johnson. Traditional health issues such as "chronic disease, obesity, smoking or access to health care" have been its focus.
Gun, drugs, and motor vehicles are by no means strictly American causes of death, but they affect American far more than in other developed nations, so much so that they account for "a full year -- about half of the disadvantage that American men face" in the United States than elsewhere, according to Andrew Fenelon, a researcher with the National Center for Health Statistics, a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and one of three authors of the study.
"The CDC had not touched firearm research since 1996 — when the NRA accused the agency of promoting gun control and Congress threatened to strip the agency’s funding," wrote Todd C. Frankel for The Washington Post last year.
Hat tip to Michael Keenly