Massachusetts is bucking the national trend toward shorter life spans; a baby born in Massachusetts in 2016 can expect to live 80 years and 8 months according to a new report. The increase in average life expectancy is attributed to health promotion efforts (antismoking campaign, protection from gun violence, access to healthy food and places to exercise); but for deaths from opiod overdoses, Massachusetts’ life expectancy would be even higher. For the complete article, follow our link to the Boston Globe. Read More.

As life expectancy falls across US, Mass. bucks trend

By Felice J. Freyer | Boston Globe

A baby born in Massachusetts in 2016 can expect to live 80 years and eight months, three months longer than one born the previous year, according to a new report showing that Massachusetts is bucking the national trend toward shorter life spans.

State health officials attributed the increase in average life expectancy to years of health promotion efforts, such as antismoking campaigns, and near-universal health insurance. But they noted that life expectancy would be even higher were it not for deaths from opioid overdoses, which reached a record 2,154 in 2016.

“Massachusetts has for a long time invested in a number of conditions that create health,” such as access to healthy food, places to exercise, and protections from gun violence, said Dr. Sandro Galea, dean of the Boston University School of Public Health.

The annual report from the state’s Department of Public Health also reveals stark differences in the health of blacks and Hispanics, who have longer life expectancies than whites, but die at younger ages from heart disease and cancer. The reasons for the differences are not fully understood.

Nationwide, life expectancy averaged 78 years and eight months in 2016, the same as in 2015 and two months shorter than in 2014. It declined an additional month in 2017, a phenomenon blamed on overdoses and suicides. (Massachusetts data for last year are not yet available.) The Massachusetts suicide rate has been increasing but remains among the lowest in the nation.

The average life expectancy in Massachusetts has changed little since 2006, hovering around 80 years, with small fluctuations. It peaked at 80 years and 11 months in 2012 and 2013.

Overall there were 832 fewer deaths in 2016 than in 2015. But among blacks, deaths increased. Cancer was the leading cause of death, and lung cancer the leading cancer killer. Cancer death rates were highest among whites, but blacks and Hispanics died of cancer at earlier ages.

On an average day in 2016 in Massachusetts, 156 people died, including 35 from cancer, 33 from heart disease, 14 from respiratory conditions, and 13 from injuries. Of the injuries, an average of seven deaths were from poisoning — nearly all opioid overdoses — and two were suicides.

“We would likely see higher rates of life expectancy if we were not losing so many young people due to the opioid epidemic,” said Abigail R. Averbach, assistant commissioner and director of the Office of Population Health. Continue Reading