U.S. life expectancy hits a new high of 78

WASHINGTON Wed Aug 19, 2009 11:28pm EDT

A veteran walks through the lobby at the last reunion for World War Two veterans of the 10th Mountain Division in Denver, Colorado August 2, 2007. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

A veteran walks through the lobby at the last reunion for World War Two veterans of the 10th Mountain Division in Denver, Colorado August 2, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Rick Wilking

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. life expectancy is the highest it has ever been at 77.9 years, according to government statistics released on Wednesday.

Both men and women gained, but women still live on average more than five years longer than men, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

Death rates also fell, with the age-adjusted death rate dropping to 760.3 deaths per 100,000 people.

"The 2007 increase in life expectancy, up from 77.7 in 2006, represents a continuation of a trend," the CDC said in a statement. "Over a decade, life expectancy has increased 1.4 years from 76.5 years in 1997 to 77.9 in 2007."

Newborn baby boys can expect to live to be 75 on average and girls can expect to be 80. "For the first time, life expectancy for black males reached 70 years," the CDC said.

Overall, 2,423,995 people died in the United States in 2007, 2,269 fewer than in 2006.

Most Americans die of heart disease or cancer -- they accounted for 48.5 percent of all deaths in 2007. Death rates fell slightly for influenza and pneumonia, murder and accidents.

But the death rate for the fourth-leading cause of death, chronic lower respiratory diseases such as emphysema, increased by 1.7 percent.

An estimated 11,061 people died from AIDS in 2007.

Infant mortality rates were statistically unchanged at 6.77 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, the study found.

The United States has lower life expectancies overall than comparable developed countries.

Life expectancy for babies born in Japan and Singapore has reached 82. French babies will live to be 80.9 on average, while those born in Sweden, Italy, Australia and Canada can expect to live to be more than 80.

Newborn Tunisians can expect to live on average to be 75, and Guatemalans to 70. AIDS-ravaged Zimbabwe has an average life expectancy of only 39.7.

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