Here’s a holiday gift for all–longer life expectancy

We all just got a holiday gift from the secular powers that be. Well, maybe it’s a gift.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) just got around to analyzing and compiling vital statistics for the year 2012. They found that life expectancy (at birth) has reached an all-time high in the U.S.

Overall life expectancy was 78.8 years on average in 2012. For women, it was higher at 81.2 years. For men, it was slightly lower at 76.4 years.

Many complain that women still don’t get all the same benefits as men. But when it comes to that most precious gift of life, as these hard facts show, they get an extra half-decade to enjoy whatever inequalities remain.

Plus, from 2011 to 2013, the age-adjusted annual death rate fell 1.1 percent to a historic low of 733 deaths per 100,000 people. If this trend keeps up, it could almost start to make up for the decline in birth rates.

The top-10 causes of death remain the same:

  1. Heart disease
  2. Cancer
  3. Lung diseases
  4. Stroke
  5. Accidents
  6. Alzheimer’s dementia
  7. Diabetes
  8. Influenza and pneumonia
  9. Kidney disease
  10. Suicide

Although, remember, the death rates for Alzheimer’s disease are probably up to five times higher than what the CDC reports, taking away from the categories of accidents, pneumonia, heart-lung disease, and perhaps others.  You see, doctors often report the complications of AD–such as pneumonia, infection, accidents–as cause of death on the death certificate.

Also, I found it curious to see influenza and pneumonia lumped together on the CDC list. Of course, pneumonia is a deadly infection of the lungs. And it’s also a serious complication related to many other underlying causes of death…not just Alzheimer’s. But virtually the only way influenza can actually cause death is if it turns into viral pneumonia.

In addition, it makes me wonder…if influenza remains the eighth leading cause of death, how can the vaccine for it be so effective? Over the past 10 years, the government can proudly proclaim a five-fold increase in the proportion of people getting the vaccine. So–why hasn’t influenza dropped off this top-10 list?

On the other hand, by lumping influenza (not fatal by itself–without developing pneumonia) together with pneumonia (which is frequently fatal), it artificially raises influenza’s scare power. It makes influenza look like a deadly, “top-10” danger. Perhaps, they purposefully did this statistical trick to keep the annual flu vaccine campaign going. Although this year, on top of all the other problems even in a “good” year, the CDC did not even get the right strains of influenza right in this year’s vaccine!

See what fun we can have with statistics? At this time of year, one might say, “Oh, what fun it is to ride in a one-horse, open, sleigh-t of hand…statistical definition.”

But there’s even more of this kind of fun to be found…

From 2011 to 2012, serious disease death rates fell almost across the board:

-heart disease fell 1.8 percent

-cancer fell 1.5 percent

-lung diseases fell 2.4 percent

-stroke fell 2.6 percent

-Alzheimer’s fell 3.6 (but watch out for those statistical definitions)

-diabetes fell 1.9 percent

-influenza and pneumonia fell 8.3

-kidney disease fell 2.2

Death rates also fell in most groups identified by sex, race, and Hispanic origin. So that’s some good news. Tragically, suicide increased by 2.4 percent. And accidental deaths remained steady.

Of course, at the population level, all we can see are secular trends. These numbers don’t explain why death rates changed. We can only make educated guesses.

Did death rates fall because people received more medical care (or perhaps less medical care) because of Obamacare?

It’s entirely possible that less medical care is actually the cause. Plenty of studies link less medical care to lower death rates, at least from year to year. And last week I told you about a study that found men and women with increased medical care did not live longer, healthier lives than people with less access to medical care.

When fewer medical tests and procedures are done, there are fewer complications and deaths. And in case you did not think medical procedures can result in deaths, another statistical report just announced that there are more than 400,000 deaths per year due to medical errors with “routine” medications, tests and procedures. This figure does not count the cases of outright malpractice. But, not to worry, the report was quick to point out the good news that the number of deaths due to medical error actually fell by 50,000 deaths per year.

Either way, numbers like that have a dramatic impact on national death rates.

In addition, one-third of the population now routinely uses natural and nutritional approaches. Mostly as a complement to mainstream medicine. But hopefully, in more and more cases, as a cost-saving (and potentially life-saving) substitute. Experts estimate that figure has grown by 2,000 percent (20 times) over the last 25 years. Plus, more than 80 percent of cancer patients use alternative, natural, and nutritional approaches to complement mainstream care.

Is that having an impact?

Again, I have reported on many studies that show reductions in the risk of cancer, as well as longer survival and improved quality of life, with natural alternatives.  And of course, high-quality dietary supplements can help manage or reverse the side effects of many mainstream drugs, such as statins with CoQ10, and Metformin with vitamin B.

Of course, quality of life is an equally important metric when talking about increased longevity.

Though, don’t “count on” anyone in the government to understand quality of life.

In the early 1990s, I was invited to be part of the team charged with developing the nation’s health goals for the year 2000. They called it “Healthy People 2000.” Another part of the team came up with five major “flagship” goals. This team set the goal to increase overall longevity in the U.S. to 74 years by the year 2000. As a second goal, they wanted to increase average years of healthy life–without illness or disability–to 69.

See the backward logic? They wanted to raise longevity rates artificially, even if it meant the last five years of a person’s life would be riddled with sickness. I could envision the headline in the media, “Government says they want people to be sick and disabled for the last half-decade of life.”

It turns out that women now get that extra half-decade. But it’s your job–and apparently not the government’s concern–to stay well and able during those extra, bonus years of your life. And I’ll be there every step of the way, giving you tools and tidbits to help make 2015 the healthiest and happiest year ever.


  1. “U.S. Life Expectancy Keeps Rising, Racial Gap at Record Low,” Medscape ( 1/6/2014