Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone

Increase in deaths by violence leads to lowered American life expectancy

By KEVIN FREKING | Associated Press
January 10, 2013

011013gunsThe United States suffers far more violent deaths than any other wealthy nation, due in part to the widespread possession of firearms and the practice of storing them at home in a place that is often unlocked, according to a report released Wednesday by two of the nation’s leading health research institutions.

Gun violence is just one of many factors contributing to lower U.S. life expectancy, but the finding took on urgency because the report comes less than a month after the shooting deaths of 26 people at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

The United States has about six violent deaths per 100,000 residents. None of the 16 other countries included in the review came anywhere close to that ratio. Finland was closest to the U.S. ranking with slightly more than two violent deaths per 100,000 residents.

For many years, Americans have been dying at younger ages that people in almost all other wealthy countries. In addition to the impact of gun violence, Americans consume the most calories among peer countries and get involved in more accidents that involve alcohol. The U.S. also suffers higher rates of drug-related deaths, infant mortality and AIDS.

The result is that the life expectancy for men in the United States ranked the lowest among the 17 countries reviewed, at 75.6 years, while the life expectancy for U.S. women ranked second lowest at 80.7 years. The countries reviewed included Canada, Japan, Australia and much of Western Europe.

The U.S. has long lagged in life expectancy compared with other economically developed nations. In this study, researchers culled existing studies to examine why. Most statistics in the report are from the late 1990s through 2008. The report found that U.S. health disadvantages aren’t limited to the poor and uninsured. Even white, college-educated, and wealthier Americans tend to be in worse health than their peers in other developed countries.

The nation’s health disadvantages have economic consequences. They lead to higher costs for consumers and taxpayers as well as a workforce that remains less healthy than that of other high-income countries.

“With lives and dollars at stake, the United States cannot afford to ignore this problem,” said the report from the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine.

In attempting to explain why Americans are so unhealthy, the researchers looked at three categories: the nation’s health care system, harmful behaviors and social and economic conditions. Researchers noted that the U.S. has a large uninsured population compared to other countries with comparable economies, and more limited access to primary care. And although the income of Americans is higher on average than that of other wealthy countries, the United States also has a higher level of poverty, especially among children.

Researchers said American culture probably plays an important role in the life expectancy rates falling short of other wealthy countries.

“We have a culture in our country that, among many Americans, cherishes personal autonomy and wants to limit intrusion of government and other entities on our personal lives and also wants to encourage free enterprise and the success of business and industry. Some of those forces may act against the ability to achieve optimal health outcomes,” said Dr. Steven H. Woolf of Virginia Commonwealth University, who served as chairman for the study panel.

The National Rifle Association did not immediately return calls seeking comment about the report, but in the past gun-rights advocates have fought any suggestion that firearms ownership has public health implications, and they have won cuts in the government’s budget for such research.

The researchers reviewed an array of studies over the years. They estimated that homicide and suicide together account for about a quarter of the years of life lost for U.S. men compared to those in those peer countries. Homicide, they noted, is the second leading cause of death among adolescents and young adults aged 15-24. The large majority of those homicides involve firearms.

The researchers said there is little evidence that violent acts occur more frequently in the United States than elsewhere. It’s the lethality of those attacks that stands out.

“One behavior that probably explains the excess lethality of violence and unintentional injuries in the United States is the widespread possession of firearms and the common practice of storing them (often unlocked) at home. The statistics are dramatic,” the report said.

For example, the United States has the highest rate of firearm ownership among peer countries — 89 civilian-owned firearms for every 100 Americans, and the U.S. is home to about 35 to 50 percent of the world’s civilian-owned firearms, the report noted.

Woolf said that researchers had expected that homicide would be an important factor in explaining the health disadvantage that existed in younger adults in the U.S., particularly among young men.

“The size of the health disadvantage was pretty stunning. The fact that our risk of death from homicide is seven times higher and from shootings 20 times higher is pretty dramatic, but I would add that was probably just as important to us was the extent of the health disadvantage in young Americans that had nothing to do with violent injuries.”

Woolf cited the statistics regarding premature babies and the high prevalence of illness among teenagers as equally disturbing as the statistics on guns and violence.

___

Online:

Health Study: http://bit.ly/10fq0dK

___

Associated Press writers Matthew Daly, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Pete Yost contributed to this report.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Copyright © 2013 Capitol Hill Blue

Enhanced by Zemanta

6 Responses to Increase in deaths by violence leads to lowered American life expectancy

  1. Keith

    January 10, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    “The United States suffers far more violent deaths than any other wealthy nation, due in part to the widespread possession of firearms and the practice of storing them at home in a place that is often unlocked…”

    The REST of the story is that the estimated number of firearms in private hands in the USA is some 270 MILLION (with an “M”).

    That’s nearly one firearm for every man woman and child in the country. What’s more, by all accounts, the number of firearms in private hands in the USA is growing ever larger by the day.

    Clearly, regardless of what our gormless politicians have to say about the issue, this Genie is ALREADY out of the bottle.

    Clearly, with the absolutely massive number of firearms ALREADY in private hands (plus what’s written in our Constitution) NOTHING (short of a complete police state takeover) is going to change the USA from being one of the most violent and crime-filled nations on the planet.

    Indeed, about the only thing the rest of us (who DON’T own firearms) can do now is to stay huddled behind the bars on the doors and windows of our homes…and out of the crossfire when we must travel.

    So much for “The Land of the Free”.

  2. Griff

    January 10, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    Yep

    Lack of healthcare is the cause? How about too much healthcare? Every 5 seconds on television there’s a new drug with horrific side effects that the maker insists I need to see my doctor about. And of course, once those side effects occur, just go see your doctor for a new drug to counteract them, only to introduce more side effects.

    Throw in the massive amount of chemicals (the same things drugs are made of – I wonder if THEY have side effects) we consume every day, the unnatural, artificial, nutritient-devoid garbage we shove down our gullets each day and people wonder why others are going off the deep end on a daily basis.

    But of course, it wouldn’e be America, v2.0 if we didn’t blame some one else for what is solely our responsibility – through government, education and parenting – to correct.

  3. David

    January 10, 2013 at 7:29 pm

    “[nothing] is going to change the USA from being one of the most violent and crime-filled nations on the planet.”

    :eye roll:

    FYI Keith, there are 27 countries in the world with higher firearm murder rates than the USA, per capita. Honduras is the leader, with a firearm murder rate 22 times greater than the USA. On average, Latin American and African countries have a firearm murder rate 4 times greater than the USA. And all of those countries have much lower firearm ownership rates, per capita, than the USA.

    And while it is true you are 42 times more likely to be murdered by a firearm in the USA as compared to England, what that means in practice is your chance of being murdered by a firearm in the USA is 0.003% as compared to 0.00007% in England.

    Don’t let the hysteria get to you.

    • Keith

      January 11, 2013 at 1:15 am

      You wrote:

      …”And while it is true you are 42 times more likely to be murdered by a firearm in the USA as compared to England, what that means in practice is your chance of being murdered by a firearm in the USA is 0.003% as compared to 0.00007% in England.”

      But, it’s close to ZERO in places like Singapore, where even simple crimes are severely punished..up to and including death. Funny, but they don’t seem to have the same problems we do with mass firearm shootings of innocent people. Wonder why?

      Come to think of it, I have yet to even HEAR of a school shooting from that part of the world like the one up in Connecticut or a mass murder in a public place like the clown who blew innocent people away in that theater in Colorado.

      The bottom line here is that ALL countries in the world have their share of nut cases. The key difference is that, in the USA, they’re ARMED TO THE TEETH while being allowed to walk about in public.

      It’s bad enough that every small town, upstart gendarme seems to have a radar gun pointed up every orifice of your body these days. But knowing there’s ALSO a bunch of certifiable nut cases out there running loose armed with firearms is becoming increasingly disconcerting.

      Indeed, just like all this “war on terror” nonsense has ended up making US citizens feel LESS safe, clearly, the fact that there are now some 270 million guns floating about in private hands in the USA creates EXACTLY the same feelings of insecurity among many of us.

      Your statistics to the contrary, I’d still MUCH prefer NOT to be living in the armed camp that the USA has now become!

    • Bill Cravener

      January 11, 2013 at 4:39 am

      So in other words we are, when it comes to guns, no different then a third world country. Yes sir, that’s one to be proud of.

      Near 300 million guns owned by 35% of the population isn’t gun rights, its gun crazy!

  4. Wayne K Dolik

    January 13, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    The overall number is about 11,000 +- depending if you discount Police actions and Gangbanger murders. But, on per capita basis (deaths per 100,000) and we do have 270 million people +-, one must break down the stats.

    Overall we have the largest numbers, however, we also have the greatest gun ownership numbers in the world. We are not the most violent nation in the world as there are other nations that carry that banner.