Life expectancy continues to decline for these Americans

For the most part, life expectancy in industrialized countries like the United States has been steadily increasing over the last 100 years.

But about four years ago, I first reported that two Princeton economists stumbled upon a startling “incidental” finding that life expectancy among middle-class, middle-aged whites, for the first time in history, had actually started to decline. Meanwhile, life expectancy among Hispanic and black populations have continued to improve.

At one point recently, the decline in life expectancy for this group of whites was so dire, it pulled down the overall life expectancy for the entire U.S. population (which otherwise had been steadily increasing for decades).

Well, last summer, researchers with the University of Pennsylvania, my alma mater, took a deeper dive into this eye-opening data. And they came away with a few very important conclusions…

A reversal of fortunes for neglected populations

For the new analysis, the Penn researchers analyzed age, sex, race/ethnicity, and cause-of-death data compiled by the National Center for Vital Health Statistics. Then, they estimated death rates by age, year, and geographic region. Finally, they sorted the data into categories by geographic region:

  • Large central metropolitan areas
  • Large metro suburbs
  • Small/medium metros
  • Rural areas

And three new patterns emerged…

First, researchers found that large metropolitan areas have done extremely well, particularly compared to rural areas, which have done poorly. In fact, between 1990 and 2016, people in rural areas actually experienced decreases in life expectancy, whereas the rest of the country continued to experience modest increases.

But this finding doesn’t surprise me much. Just think about it…

When President Obama took office, we only heard about programs to improve urban health. So, for eight straight years, funds poured into supporting city populations. Death rates from HIV/AIDs came down dramatically, for example.

Unfortunately, at the same time, the Affordable Care Act dramatically reduced the availability of basic medical care in rural counties throughout the U.S. So, a logical consequence would be that life expectancy in these areas would slow, or even decline, compared to populations in metro areas.

For the second pattern to emerge from the Penn analysis, the researchers found that two groups in particular also took a hit: women between the ages of 25 to 44 and younger adults. The researchers suggest these patterns may reflect substance abuse, drug dependency, and educational disparities.

The third pattern revealed increases in mental disorders, nervous system disorders, and respiratory diseases…which also likely impacted life expectancy.

Of course, as I often report, the government decided back in 1985 that smoking was the one and only cause of lung diseases, including lung cancer. They ignored the other, clear genetic, dietary and environmental links for decades. So, it’s no wonder respiratory diseases started to influence life expectancy…there’s been no real scientific progress against them since 1985!

One overlooked factor by Penn researchers

As I finished reading the report, however, I couldn’t help but conclude that the Penn researchers missed one huge factor…

As I pointed out last month, the increased availability of emergency medical care has been a major public health advancement. Indeed, the prompt delivery of emergency services at the site of an injury or cardiac arrest can make all the difference in whether or not you survive.

But here again, almost all the resources for emergency medical services go to urban areas. Whereas these services are scarce, or virtually non-existent, in rural areas. In addition, a new study has found that women in particular are far less likely to survive a trip to the hospital following cardiac arrest.

In the end, I’m struck by how health care in the United States is still so reactionary. Even in most primary care practices, physicians simply settle for “managing” diseases.

But we should focus much more on prevention, including honest information, instead of medical myths designed to push drugs onto people who don’t need them. The truth about health will empower men and women, especially in rural areas, to live healthier, happier, disease-free lives.

P.S.  Tomorrow night, I’m revealing three decades’ worth of never-before-released clinical research on natural solutions for complete heart disease recovery. So be sure to reserve your FREE spot for this LIVE event right now! Click here to register for my Heart Attack Prevention and Repair Summit and join me on Wednesday, March 4th at 9PM Eastern time.


“Trends in Non‐Hispanic White Mortality in the United States by Metropolitan‐Nonmetropolitan Status and Region, 1990–2016.” Population and Development Review, September 2019; 43(3): 549-583.

“Mortality and Treatment Patterns Among Patients Hospitalized With Acute Cardiovascular Conditions During Dates of National Cardiology Meetings.” JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(2):237-244.

“Levels of Evidence Supporting American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association and European Society of Cardiology Guidelines, 2008-2018.” JAMA. 2019;321(11):1069-1080.