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Drugs, guns, and despair: How America is killing Americans

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American life expectancy has declined.

There's no foreign invasion. No war within its borders. No one to blame but ourselves. How then, is America killing Americans?

Most reports point to three things: drugs and alcohol, guns, and despair.

There is also fat. Statistically, it is more important, but oddly, it is not often included in discussions about the decline in life expectancy.

This last decline is from 78.7 years of life to 78.6. That does not sound terribly frightening. One-tenth of a year. One month and one week less to live. However, it has gone down for three years in a row, which has not happened in more than 100 years. The last time life expectancy went down was during World War I, when apart from deaths at the front, the US suffered an influenza epidemic that killed 675,000 people.

Is it just the US?

An article published on BMJ (previously the British Medical Journal) looked at 18 high-income countries: Japan, Switzerland, Spain, Australia, Italy, Norway, Sweden, France, Canada, Netherlands, Finland, Austria, Portugal, the UK, Belgium, Denmark, Germany and the US.

Over the last quarter of a century, the lifespans in all of those countries have gone up. People are living four to five years longer, except in the US, where it has only increased by 3.7 years. Actually, the US fell into last........

© Al Jazeera