Guns, drugs & crashes cause life expectancy gap between US, other developed nations – study

© George Frey
Guns, drugs, and car crashes are major reasons behind the life expectancy gap between the US and other developed nations, according to a new study. Such factors cause more than 100,000 deaths per year in the country.

The study, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), analyzed 2012 data from the US government and the World Health Organization (WHO). It was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Tuesday.

The data showed that injuries including violence, car crashes, drug poisonings, and overdoses are much more prevalent in the US than in the 12 other developed countries studied – Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Among men, the life expectancy in 2012 was 76.4 years in the US, and 78.6 years in the other countries. Injury-related deaths accounted for almost half of that difference.

Gun deaths were a major factor among men. The US rate was 18.4 gun-related deaths per 100,000 men, compared to one per 100,000 in the comparison countries.

Women also experienced a lower life expectancy in the US, coming in at 81.2 years, compared to 83.4 years in the other developed countries. However, injury-related deaths accounted for less of the difference – about 20 percent.

Instead, drug-related deaths accounted for most of the difference in women, with a rate of 10 per 100,000 females, compared to less than two per 100,000 women in comparison countries.

Overall, the data showed that injuries including violence, car crashes, drug poisonings, and overdoses are the leading cause of deaths for Americans up to the age of 44. The study found that such factors are responsible for more than 100,000 deaths per year in the country.

"If we brought mortality from car crashes, firearm injuries and drug poisonings down to levels that we see in these other countries, we'd gain about a year of life expectancy," said lead author Andrew Fenelon, a sociologist with the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, as quoted by AP.

The study comes just one week after similar research was published on gun deaths in the US, highlighting that “Americans are 10 times more likely to die as a result of a firearm” compared to other developed nations that were studied.