Decline In The Life Expectancy of American Men Raises Need For More Health Promotion       

By Dennis Archambault

A troubling report about the significant decline in the life expectancy of American men has raised the urgency of more effective men’s health education and promotion. The average life expectancy of men is now 73 years, compared with 79.1 for women. Men in Japan, Korea, Portugal, United Kingdom, and Italy have a life expectancy of 80 years or more. Countries such as Turkey (78.6) and China (78.2) also fare better.

A recent letter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association from public health researchers who examined men’s life expectancy, also noted an overall decline in life expectancy for all Americans.

The study did not examine the disparities between white men and men of color, but as of 2022, the life expectancy for African American men was 61.5, nearly eight years shorter than for African American women.

While women have typically lived longer than men, the widening gap should concern Americans, according to Dr. Brandon Yan, lead author of the study, because it shows that baseline factors accounting for men’s lower longevity — genetics and men’s higher vulnerability to chronic disease — aren’t the sole reason for the difference in life expectancies. The opioid epidemic, mental health, and chronic metabolic disease are also significant causes of morbidity and mortality, Yan said in an interview with STAT. Men have higher mortality rates from all three conditions compared to women. In addition, he said that “a lot of these drivers of worsening life expectancy in particular for men are preventable causes of death.” Even Covid-19 could be considered a preventable cause of death in the time since vaccines have become available, he said.

Healthy People 2030 has focused on improving men’s health. “To improve men’s health, it’s important to raise awareness about preventive screenings and regular health care for men of all ages. Interventions to reduce smoking and drinking and promote healthy behaviors also can help prevent diseases and improve men’s health.”

This all begins with orienting men to the need for regular primary care visits and a recognition for when mental health care is needed.

Dennis Archambault is vice president of Public Affairs for Authority Health.

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