Americans’ Shortened Life Spans

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The life expectancy of Americans is lower than that of people living in other high income countries, and a new study explains why: We’re inflicting earlier death on ourselves with self-destructive behavior. Car accidents, gun violence, and drug overdoses kill 100,000 people in the U.S. each year, which helps explain why American men and women die about 2.2 years earlier than residents of Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, according to a new study by the National Center for Health Statistics. American men and women have a life expectancy of 76.4 and 81.2 years, respectively, compared with the 78.6 and 83.4 years of their peers abroad. “It seems staggering that we get two fewer years of life just for living here,” study author Andrew Fenelon tells the Associated Press. Gun deaths, car crashes, and overdoses are responsible for half that difference, with the other lost year the result of higher infant mortality, health problems related to diet, and other factors.

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