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Men May Soon Live As Long As Women

Healthier lifestyles and better medical care lead to increases in male lifespans.

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The lifespans of men are increasing faster than those of women, according to data from the U.S. and U.K. By 2030, men in England and Wales could live as long as women, erasing a decades-long gap. In the U.S., the average life expectancy for men increased by 4.6 years between 1989 and 2009, while for women it increased only 2.7 years. In 2009, the lifespans of men ranged from 66.1 to 81.6 years; for women, it was 73.5 to 86.0 years, according to county-by-county data collected by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). The large gains made by men in both the U.K. and U.S. are due to healthier lifestyles and better medical care. Preventable diseases caused by tobacco, obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure all contribute to the gap in life expectancy between men and women. In the U.K., men have also shifted from dangerous occupations like coal mining to safer, more-office based jobs. While overall lifespans in the U.S. are increasing for both sexes, women are doing more poorly. In 661 counties, the life expectancy of women either plateaued or dropped, compared to a similar lack of progress for men in only 166 counties. “It’s tragic that in a country as wealthy as the United States and with all the medical expertise we have that so many girls will live shorter lives than their mothers,” said Dr. Ali Mokdad, the head of IHME’s US County Performance research team. Men in Iowa live the longest—68 percent of the counties have a male life expectancy above the national average. Lifespans for men in all of the Oklahoma counties, however, were below the national average. Overall, the gap between the men with the longest and shortest life expectancies was 15.5 years. Full county-by-county life expectancy rates can be found on the IHME website.

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