Some say that the first person to live for 1,000 years is probably already alive. But the rest of us mere mortals aren’t doing too badly either.
Between 1990 and 2013, average life expectancy rose from 65.3 years to 71.5 years, according to a new analysis from the Global Burden of Disease Study. In the past 23 years, life expectancy increased by 5 years and 8 months for men and 6 years and 6 months for women.
“The progress we are seeing against a variety of illnesses and injuries is good, even remarkable, but we can and must do even better,” says lead author Dr. Christopher Murray. “The huge increase in collective action and funding given to the major infectious diseases such as diarrhea, measles, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria has had a real impact.”
However, the developed world is developing some new problems that pose a threat to the gains made elsewhere, according to Murray, the professor of global health at the University of Washington. “This study shows that some major chronic diseases have been largely neglected but are rising in importance, particularly drug disorders, liver cirrhosis, diabetes and chronic kidney disease,” he adds.
Since 1990, liver cancer caused by hepatitis C increased by 125 percent, drug use disorders by 63 percent, and chronic kidney disease by 37 percent.
The discrepancy between men’s and women’s lifespans is because women drink less, smoke less and take better care of themselves when they are sick.
Both high-income and low-income countries have seen their life expectancy rise, but for different reasons. In richer countries, death rates from most cancers (down by 15 percent) and cardiovascular diseases (down by 22 percent) are falling, while poorer areas are making gains from reducing diarrhea, lower respiratory tract infections and childhood illnesses.
Some of these countries, such as Nepal, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Niger, Maldives, Timor-Leste and Iran have seen exceptional gains in life expectancy in less than three decades. Indeed, the rise is more than 12 years for both sexes.
“Even though we have reached a remarkably high level, life expectancy will keep increasing but at a slower pace in the coming decades. But we can already predict that one in two children who are born today will be a centenarian,” Maurice Giroud, professor in Neurology at the University Hospital of Dijon, told Metro.