The nation is in the longest period of a generally declining life expectancy since the late 1910s, when World War I and the worst flu pandemic in modern history combined to kill almost 1 million Americans. In rural areas, where suicide rates tend to be higher, Brummett points out that firearms also tend to play a more significant role everyday life.
"I think this is a very dismal picture of health in the United States", said Joshua Sharfstein, vice dean for public health practice and community engagement at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Japan has the longest life expectancy in the world, at nearly 84. "It shouldn't be declining in the United States".
When U.S. life expectancy last went into the kind of extended decline reflected in statistics released this week, the nation was part of a world war and a pandemic. "Or can we say this is a tractable problem?"
In analysis published a year ago by senior researcher Esteban Ortiz-Opsina, PhD., at Our World In Data, an online publication of Oxford University, life expectancy data do not speak to "person-specific factors".
The CDC report notes that the mortality rate adjusted for age in the U.S. has increased slightly "by 0.4% from 728.8 deaths per 100,000 standard population in 2016 to 731.9 in 2017".
OH - which has spent $1 billion a year combating the opioid epidemic - was one of 20 states and the District of Columbia above the national average.
"Tragically, this troubling trend is largely driven by deaths from drug overdose and suicide", according to CDC Director Robert Redfield.
Deaths from legal painkillers did not increase in 2017. Those totals were virtually identical to the numbers in 2016. Federal officials cited 5,111 drug deaths in OH past year. Those measures include prescription drug monitoring programs that help prevent substance abusers from obtaining multiple prescriptions by "doctor shopping".
"There has been an assumption at times that overdoses fit into one of two categories: they're intentional or they're unintentional", she says.
Other factors in the life expectancy decline include a spike in deaths from flu last winter and increases in deaths from chronic lower respiratory diseases, Alzheimer's disease, strokes and suicide.
Deaths from cancer continued their long, steady, downward trend.
Now, the reports released by the CDC did not offer only bad news. The 2017 report is the third in a row to show a decline in life expectancy.
Mathematically, life expectancy is the mean number of years remaining at a given age; rates range from anywhere between 30 years in Swaziland and 80-plus years in Japan. That average lifespan in America is now 78.6 years, based on data available through 2017.
Financial struggles, a widening income gap and divisive politics are all casting a pall over many Americans, he suggested. Age-adjusted death rates increased for 7 of the 10 causes with the rate increasing the most for influenza and pneumonia (5.9%), unintentional injuries (4.2%), and suicide (3.7%). Earlier CDC reports have noted increasing rates of suicide by gun. However, the rate for females increased more sharply.