May 23, 2023
Thoughts on the Average American Lifespan Shortening
For as long as records have been kept, our average lifespan in America has been increasing. Granted, some of the increases have been very small over the years. If we go back 1,000 years, average lifespan was only into the mid 20’s. In the 1800’s and 1900’s the average lifespan was around 45 years. We peaked for expected number of years the average American lives sometime around 2014 at 77 years.
Then something astounding started to happen. Our average lifespans have been going down since around 2015. Even with all the advances that are supposed to make life safer and make us healthier, our expected number of years to live have been decreasing. What is causing this phenomenon? We have more airbags in cars, we have more vaccinations than ever before, we have “smart homes”, and police and fire departments in every township.
The Covid-19 epidemic greatly accelerated our loss of life expectancy over the last few years. Just from 2019 to 2021, the average American lost almost 3 years of life expectancy. This can be directly related to deaths from Covid. This does not tell the real story though.
Here are five reasons our life expectancy has become shorter in America:
- Deaths from drug overdoses – Americans take more drugs that the next 20 industrialized countries COMBINED. This is a scary statistic and not one to be proud of. We have deaths from illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroin and meth. However, the greatest increase in drug overdoses and early deaths has come from pharmaceutical drugs such as opioids, commonly called morphine, Percocet, oxycodone and codeine.
- Deaths from automobile accidents – Americans love our cars. Unfortunately, we also text, talk on cell phones, get distracted by our kids and eat in our cars. We have the highest rate of car accidents of any country in the world. We also fail to put on seatbelts sometimes.
- Deaths from alcohol and suicide – deaths from alcohol and suicide have been affecting younger and younger people over the last 40 years. Some believe this has to do with the emergence of social media and the increased pressures young people feel. Others put the responsibility on the creative alcohol producers and the explosion of sugary, energy boosting alcoholic beverages available today.
- Increased sedentary lifestyles – with every new invention that promises us more convenience and less work, we become less active. We have doorbells that tell us who is knocking on our door. We have food delivered to our front door with a few touches on our smart phones. We are only a couple generations away from people that had to get up and walk across the room to change the TV channel (heaven forbid).
- Lack of personal responsibility for our health – we have become a nation largely dependent on a healthcare system that is completely failing. We wait until we have a serious problem like heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes and then we hope there is a drug that we can take so our lives are not inconvenienced. Death rates have been rising for each of the five major disease-related causes of death in America.
Perhaps there is a silver lining in the message that our life expectancy is going down for the first time in history. Perhaps, we can get more people to take an active role in building their health, building their immune systems, exercising on a daily basis, avoiding alcohol, staying away from drugs, driving safely and with seat belts fastened. Someone please stop me; I could go on all day. Be Blessed.
Category: Dr. Sterling