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Life expectancy increasing - mostly

Thursday December 18th, 2014

Global success against many major diseases has improved life expectancy for most people in the last 25 years, according to a study published today.

Overall people can expect to live on average six years longer now than they did in 1990, the study shows.

One region is an exception – southern Africa, where the HIV epidemic has reduced life expectancy.

Researchers say some diseases continue to defy medicine and public health – and are causing growing numbers of deaths, according to the report in The Lancet.

These include liver cancer caused by hepatitis C, drug use disorders and sickle cell disease.

Diabetes is also a growing killer – responsible for 9% more deaths than in 1990.

The findings come from the Global Burden of Disease study 2013.

The report names countries such as Nepal, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Iran as making “exceptional” gains in life expectancy.

And it says advances in the UK in life expectancy have been less than the global average. For men it increased by 6.2 but for women by just 4.4 for women.

Researcher Professor Christopher Murray, of the University of Washington, USA, said today: “The progress we are seeing against a variety of illnesses and injuries is good, even remarkable, but we can and must do even better.

“The huge increase in collective action and funding given to the major infectious diseases such as diarrhoea, measles, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and malaria has had a real impact.

“However, this study shows that some major chronic diseases have been largely neglected but are rising in importance, particularly drug disorders, liver cirrhosis, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease.”

Global, regional, and national age–sex specific all-cause and cause-specific mortality for 240 causes of death, 1990–2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013. GBD 2013 Mortality and Causes of Death Collaborators. Lancet 18 December 2014; doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(14)61682-2 [abstract]

Tags: Africa | Asia | Diabetes | General Health | Internal Medicine | UK News | World Health

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