A baby born in Massachusetts in 2016 can live eighty years and eight months, three months longer than one year ago, according to a new report showing that Massachusetts is resisting the national trend towards shorter lifetimes.
Public health officials attributed the increase in average life expectancy to years of health promotion efforts, such as anti-tobacco campaigns and near-universal health insurance. However, they found that life expectancy would be even higher if deaths from opioid overdoses did not occur, reaching a record 2,1
"Massachusetts has long invested in a number of conditions that create good health," said Sandro Galea, dean of the Boston University School of Public Health.
The annual report of the Department of Public Health of the State also reveals significant differences in health care health of blacks and Hispanics, who have a longer life expectancy than whites, but in younger years die from heart disease and cancer. The reasons for the differences are not fully understood.
Nationwide, life expectancy in 2016 averaged 78 years and eight months, just like in 2015 and two months shorter than in 2014. It went back an extra month in 2017, a phenomenon due to overdoses and suicides. (The data for Massachusetts for the last year are not yet available.) The suicide rate in Massachusetts has increased but remains below the lowest in the nation.
The average life expectancy in Massachusetts has hardly changed since 2006, it varies by 80 years with little variation. It reached its peak in 2012 and 2013 at 80 years and eleven months.
In total, there were 832 fewer deaths in 2016 than in 2015. However, among blacks, the number of 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 in earlier years.
On an average day in 2016, 156 people died in Massachusetts, including 35 in cancer, 33 in heart disease, 14 in respiratory disease and 13 in injury. Of the injuries, an average of seven deaths were due to poisoning (almost all opioid overdoses), and two were suicides.
"We would probably see a higher life expectancy if we do not lose so many young people due to the opioid epidemic," said Abigail R. Averbach, Deputy Commissioner and Director of the Office of Public Health.
"Massachusetts is one of the healthiest states in the United States. We are always among the first two or three, "said Averbach. "We have consistently seen declines in chronic health conditions such as heart disease and cancer."
Government efforts to reduce smoking to 14 percent of adults were a "major driver" for reducing chronic disease, she said. 19659005] An almost universal health insurance also plays a role, said Averbach.
But Galea, the Dean of the BU, does not consider health insurance as a big factor. "At the end of the day, health care is a small part of what leads to a healthy, long life," he said.
Instead, good health comes from the cumulative effects of various benefits, from early childhood education to nutrient-rich foods and safe, walkable neighborhoods. Galea said that low injury rates and obesity in firearms have contributed to increased life expectancy.
Similarly, the poorer health of black people in Massachusetts leads to the same conditions – reduced livelihoods, lower education, poorer neighborhoods, "said Galea.
The infant mortality rate – almost three times higher for blacks than whites in Massachusetts – is a good example. "It's not a health care system problem, it's about social and economic opportunities," Galea said.
A pregnant black woman lives rather in low-quality housing, has limited access to nutritious food, has multiple jobs, and is in daily stress Each of these factors may contribute to premature birth or low birth weight, the leading cause of child death.
Dr Monica Bharel, state health commissioner, said in a statement that "closing the health gap between whites and other groups" is a major concern "of her office "This annual report makes a key contribution to enabling us to design our preventive measures so that they are used where they are most needed to reduce these differences," she said.
Other findings of the report:
■ Hispanic women had the highest life expectancy in Massachusetts and lived on average until the age of 89 years. Averbach said that this is likely due to a phenomenon known as the "salmon effect" in other countries of the country: "Elderly Hispanics, who do not feel well, tend to migrate towards their country of origin at the end of their lives. "They leave healthier people who are destined to live longer," she said.
■ Down the line, whites had a lower life expectancy than blacks and Hispanics. Health officials attributed this apparent paradox to the toll of the opioid epidemic. Deaths in young people lower the average life expectancy, and the highest death rate in opioid overdoses is among the whites.
■ Blacks and Hispanics died of cancer as whites and Asians at a younger age.
■ Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians died of heart disease at a younger age than whites.
■ White suicide was almost twice as high as that of blacks, Hispanics, and Asians.
Felice J. Freyer can be reached at [email protected]