Good news: People in the U.S. are living longer and killing each other less.
The average U.S. life expectancy rose to 78.7 years in 2010, as fewer people died from homicides, heart disease and cancer, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention said today. The agency also revised upward the life expectancy of people born in 2009, to 78.6 years from 78.2, based on 2010 census results.
The CDC took homicides off its list of the top 15 causes of death for the first time in 45 years, Bloomberg News reports. Homicides were responsible for 5.3 fatalities in every 100,000 people, the lowest rate since 1962.
The top two leading killers, heart disease and cancer, which were responsible for 47 percent of fatalities in 2010, also saw declines. Deaths from heart disease fell 2.4 percent and cancer-related deaths declined 0.6 percent. Death rates also fell for influenza, pneumonia, blood infections, respiratory diseases, strokes and accidents.
The CDC findings showed mortality rates for some leading causes of death increased. Mortality rates rose 3.3 percent for Alzheimer's, 4.6 percent for Parkinson's and 2.4 percent for suicides.
In total, almost 2.46 million people in the U.S. died in 2010, a 1.2 percent increase from the year before. Still, 2010 had a record-low national mortality rate of 746.2 deaths for every 100,000 people, down from 746.9 in 2009. (This rate reflects the growth of the U.S. population to more than 308 million people in 2010.)
What will longer life expectancy in the U.S. mean for those worried that the Medicare and Social Security trust funds will run dry before they reach retirement age? The children born in 2010 can expect to have 37 more days to figure it out.
(Kirsten Salyer is the social media editor for Bloomberg View.)