Why Are Americans Dying Earlier Than Others?

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At the root of all doctors’ advice, all health breakthroughs and all alternative therapies is how to live longer with a greater quality of life. A new study says that life expectancy in most U.S. counties lags behind the world’s healthiest nations. Sometimes health news is sobering and not so positive.

While people in Japan, Canada, and other nations are enjoying significant gains in life expectancy every year, most of the U.S. is falling behind. Between 2000 and 2007, more than 80% of U.S. counties fell in standing against the average of the 10 nations with the best life expectancies. This, despite the U.S. spending more per capita than any nation on health.

The U.S. ranges from being 16 years ahead to more than 50 years behind. Some counties have a life expectancy that other top nations had back in 1957. Authors believe that high rates of obesity, tobacco use, and other risk factors for an early death are driving this.

For women, five counties in Mississippi have the lowest life expectancy — all below 74.5 years. Four of these counties have the lowest for men, all below 67 years. Conversely, women in Collier, Florida, have an average life expectancy of 86, while men in Fairefax County, Virginia, have 81.1 years as their average.

Across the U.S., women fare worse than men. In about 40% of U.S. counties, women there fell more than five years behind the top nations. In fact, life expectancy is so uneven within some states that there can be a decade’s difference between the counties with the longest lives and those with the shortest. States such as Arizona, Florida, Virginia, and Georgia have seen counties leap forward more than five years from 1987 to 2007, while nearby counties stagnate or even lose years of life expectancy.

The researchers say that policymakers use the life expectancy data to tailor strategies that will fit the dynamics of their communities. Each U.S. community has the biggest impact on health, not the overall nation’s system. Medical health has to be brought out to communities in a greater capacity rather than relying on people going to the doctor’s office.

So, in the face of this health news, the best ways to live long are near beaten to death in the pages of Doctors Health Press. It takes healthful eating (see “The Food Doctor” newsletter), it takes regular exercise, it takes stress reduction, and it takes understanding your body and anything that seems out of place.

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