The life span of American men is almost six years less than that of women, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
The study attributes this to the more than 1 million deaths from COVID-19, which has led to a significant drop in U.S. life expectancy from 78.8 years in 2019 to 76.1 in 2022. This decline has set the U.S. back by over two decades, placing it behind other nations like Japan, Korea, Portugal, the U.K., and Italy, which boast life expectancies of 80 years or more.
The situation is particularly dire for men, whose life expectancy now stands at 73.2 years, compared to 79.1 years for women. This 5.9-year gap is the largest since 1996. Brandon Yan, the study’s lead author, warns that the widening gap indicates that factors such as genetics and men’s higher susceptibility to chronic diseases are not the only reasons for the disparity in life expectancies.
Mental Health, Opioid Crisis, Chronic Diseases
Yan points to the opioid crisis, mental health issues, and chronic metabolic diseases as key factors contributing to the growing life expectancy gap between genders. He also highlights that many of these causes of death are preventable, including COVID-19, since vaccines have become available.
Yan suggests that the U.S. healthcare system’s focus on treating illnesses rather than preventing them is a significant issue.
The study also notes that societal norms around masculinity can impact men’s health-seeking behaviors, affecting their likelihood to seek help for mental health issues or attend regular primary care visits. The study does not delve into racial and ethnic differences, but Yan and his team plan to explore this area further.
Read more at STAT News.