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U.S. Women Now Outlive Men by Six Years as COVID-19 and Drug Overdoses Take a Toll

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Women Expected to Live Longer

New research reveals that U.S. women are projected to live about six years longer than U.S. men. This gender-based life expectancy gap has reached its widest point since 1996, with women now expected to live to an average of 79.3 years, compared to 73.5 years for men.

Why Do Women Live Longer?

Various factors contribute to women's longer life expectancy. Hormonal differences and behavioral choices such as visiting doctors more frequently, smoking less, and drinking less contribute to this trend. Women have historically outlived men in the U.S., and this gap continues to widen.

COVID-19 and Drug Overdoses Impacting Men

The gap in life expectancy between men and women has been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and unintentional injuries, including accidental drug overdoses. These causes, along with higher rates of homicide, heart disease, and suicide deaths among men, have contributed to the widening gap. Heart disease, COVID-19, and unintentional injuries were among the leading causes of death in 2021.

Factors Preventing a Wider Gap

The gender gap in life expectancy would have been even greater if not for factors such as increased maternal mortality and decreased cancer deaths among men. These factors have had a balancing effect on the overall life expectancy gap.

Addressing the Issues

The data highlights the importance of limiting the spread of COVID-19, improving national mental health, and implementing strategies to prevent drug overdoses and suicides. These issues, often referred to as "deaths of despair" by experts, require urgent attention to ensure a healthier and longer life for all Americans.