NEW YORK-Life expectancy in the United States fell slightly between
1992 and 1993 and did not improve in 1994. The increase in overall
mortality stems from increases in the number of deaths caused
by the major killers (heart disease and cancer), as well as respiratory
diseases (COPD, pneumonia, and influenza) and diabetes mellitus.
But overall, and particularly among certain age groups, the decrease
in life expectancy is closely linked to the increase in deaths
Life expectancy in this country peaked at 75.8 years in 1992 after
a steady rise from the 1940s, but fell in 1993 to 75.5 years and
remained at that level in 1994, Stanley Kranczer reports in the
Statistical Bulletin (Jul/Sept:12-20, 1995), the journal of the
National Center for Health Statistics, published by the Metropolitan
Life Insurance Company.
In 1992, AIDS was responsible for 33,566 deaths, which rose to
about 38,500 in 1993, and to more than 40,000 in 1994. These increases
in AIDS-related deaths have a more significant impact on overall
longevity than do increases in deaths due to diseases that commonly
affect older people because these older people would die anyway
of some other cause within a few years, Mr. Kranczer explained.
Death rates for men aged 29 to 41, the age group most affected
by AIDS-related deaths, were higher in 1992 than in the 1979 to
1981 period. The increase stands out, since during that same time
period, death rates fell among men under age 29.
Similar findings are beginning to show up in women, he said. Death
rates remained fairly stable from 1979-1981 to 1992 for women
in their early to mid-30s, but for all other age groups, death
rates during that time period decreased, and AIDS is the likely
cause for this lack of improvement in life expectancy among women
in their 30s.