The gap in life expectancy between women and men in the United States widened to 5.8 years between 2010 and 2021, the largest difference in life expectancy between men and women in decades, according to a new report.
Researchers say American women can expect to live about six years longer than men, citing disparities from COVID-19 infections and drug overdose deaths as part of the reason for the largest gap since 1996. discovered.
The study was published on Monday. JAMA Internal Medicine Journalexamined how COVID-19 and other underlying causes of death widened the gap from 2010 to 2021.
While distinct mortality rates from cardiovascular and lung cancer have long been the main explanation for why women live longer than men in the United States, researchers have found that other leading causes of death are also responsible. , and that multiple factors are widening the gap.
Survival rates for lung cancer are increasing.But testing rates for the deadliest cancer are low in the U.S.
New coronavirus infection became the biggest factor in the life expectancy gap
From 2010 to 2019, increases in mortality rates from diabetes, heart disease, unintentional injury, homicide, and suicide were the main drivers of the difference in life expectancy for U.S. men. Some of that difference was minimized by similar mortality rates for men and women from cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
However, the disparity in mortality rates due to COVID-19 was the main reason why the gap between men and women widened during the pandemic that began in 2020.
The study found that in 2021, 131 per 100,000 U.S. men died from COVID-19, but only 82 per 100,000 women died.
The researchers used a binary classification of gender and did not analyze overlap between other demographic subgroups and disease classifications.
Drug overdoses and other unintentional injuries also widen disparities
Research shows that men were twice as likely as women to die from unintentional injuries (primarily drug overdoses) in 2010, and they were even more likely to die in 2021 compared to 2019. The difference is 0.27.
“This analysis reveals that COVID-19 and the drug overdose epidemic are the main causes of the widening gender gap in life expectancy in recent years,” the study authors wrote.
Several factors, the study added, partially halted the widening gap, including declines in maternal deaths among women and cancer deaths among men. Explanations for this gap include higher rates of comorbidities, incarceration, homelessness, and other health behaviors among men.
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Average life expectancy of Americans has decreased by 2.5 years since the new coronavirus infection
Overall life expectancy decreased by more than a year and a half to 76.1 years in 2021, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A study published in June in the American Journal of Public Health found that more than 50 countries have surpassed the United States in life expectancy since the 1930s. The study shows that states in the Northeast and West experienced the fastest growth, while states in the South Central and Midwest grew the slowest.
The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that women will continue to live longer than men for the remainder of this century, according to new population estimates.
Contributor: Adriana Rodriguez