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Life Expectancy Reaches New Record

generic old senior citizen elderly age hands cane
U.S. life expectancy has hit a new record: 78.1 years for babies born in 2006, says the CDC.

What's more, the death rate for 11 of the top 15 causes of death - including heart disease, cancer, and stroke - slowed in 2006.

That's what the CDC's preliminary data show, based on some 2.4 million deaths in 2006. Here are the highlights from the CDC's report.

Life Expectancy

Life expectancy in 2006 is about four months longer than it was in 2005, according to the CDC.

White women continue to have the longest life expectancy, followed by African-American women, white men, and African-American men. Those patterns have held since 1976, though all groups have seen their life expectancy improve during that time.

Here are the 2006 life expectancy figures for each of those groups:

  • White women: 81 years

  • African-American women: 76.9 years

  • White men: 76 years

  • African-American men: 70 years

Top Causes of Death

Here are the top causes of death for 2006 in the U.S., and the change in their age-adjusted death rate since 2005:

  1. Heart disease: down 5.5%

  2. Cancer: down 1.6%

  3. Stroke: down 6.4%

  4. Chronic lower respiratory diseases (lung diseases): down 6.5%

  5. Accidents: down 1.5%

  6. Alzheimer's disease: down 0.9%

  7. Diabetes: down 5.3%

  8. Influenza and pneumonia: down 12.8% due to a relatively mild flu season

  9. Kidney disease: unchanged

  10. Septicemia (an infection that affects the blood and other parts of the body): down 2.7%

  11. Suicide: down 2.8%

  12. Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis: down 3.3%

  13. High blood pressure: down 5%

  14. Parkinson's disease: down 1.6%

  15. Homicide: down 1.6%

The decreases in the death rate for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, and homicide may have been due to chance, and the kidney disease death rate held steady, so that leaves the CDC confident that 11 of the 15 leading causes of death had lower death rates in 2006 than in 2005.

The list's order is largely unchanged, except that Alzheimer's disease and diabetes traded places.

The preliminary infant death rate dropped 2.3% from 2005 to 2006, the CDC reports.

Best, Worst State Death Rates

Among states, Hawaii had the lowest age-adjusted death rate and Mississippi had the highest death rate in 2006, according to the CDC.

But if you fold U.S. territories into that ranking, Guam edged out Hawaii, and American Samoa ranked lower than Mississippi.

Here's how the states and territories ranked in their age-adjusted death rates, starting with the lowest rate:

  1. Guam

  2. Hawaii

  3. Virgin Islands

  4. Minnesota

  5. California

  6. New York

  7. Utah

  8. Florida

  9. Connecticut:

  10. Colorado:

  11. Massachusetts

  12. Vermont:

  13. Washington

  14. Arizona

  15. New Hampshire

  16. North Dakota

  17. Puerto Rico

  18. Iowa

  19. Nebraska

  20. New Jersey

  21. South Dakota

  22. Wisconsin

  23. Rhode Island

  24. Idaho

  25. New Mexico

  26. Alaska

  27. Oregon

  28. Maine

  29. Virginia

  30. Illinois

  31. Montana

  32. Delaware

  33. Texas

  34. Maryland

  35. Kansas

  36. Pennsylvania

  37. Michigan

  38. Wyoming

  39. Nevada

  40. Ohio

  41. North Carolina

  42. Indiana

  43. Missouri

  44. Georgia

  45. South Carolina

  46. Arkansas

  47. Washington,D.C.

  48. Tennessee

  49. Kentucky

  50. Oklahoma

  51. Louisiana

  52. West Virginia

  53. Alabama

  54. Mississippi

  55. Northern Mariana Islands

  56. American Samoa

By Miranda Hitti
Reviewed by Louise Chang
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