In recent years, there has been a concerning trend in the United States that has caught the attention of healthcare professionals and policymakers alike: a decline in life expectancy. This reversal in the longstanding upward trajectory of lifespan is a sobering reminder of the complex challenges facing public health in the modern era. According to data from the CDC, life expectancy peaked in 2014 at 78.9 years, then drifted downward, even before the coronavirus pandemic.  In 2021, life expectancy cratered, reaching 76.4, the lowest since the mid-1990s. Among wealthy nations, the US went from the middle of the pack to being an outlier. Opioids and gun violence play a rule, but chronic diseases are the greatest factors in the life expectancy, especially obesity. While the U.S. cancer death rate has fallen 33 percent since 1991, reflecting sharp declines in smoking and new treatments, according to the American Cancer Society, cancer is mysteriously increasing among people younger than 50, with the highest increase in breast, thyroid and colorectal cancer.


One of the significant contributors to the declining lifespan in the US is the toxic environment that many Americans are exposed to on a daily basis. From air and water pollution to hazardous chemicals in everyday products such as pesticides in the food we eat and forever chemicals found in household products and cosmetics; the environmental factors impacting public health cannot be understated. Research indicates that exposure to pollutants and toxins can lead to a myriad of health problems, including respiratory issues, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer.

In addition to environmental factors, stress has emerged as a pervasive issue affecting individuals across the nation. The fast-paced nature of modern life, coupled with economic instability and social pressures, has contributed to high levels of stress and anxiety among Americans. Chronic stress not only takes a toll on mental health but also has profound effects on physical well-being, increasing the risk of conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity.  While stress occurs in all societies, daily life stressors seem to be particularly problematic to the US population, compared to other Western countries with a more relaxed lifestyle.

Finally, the current structure and practices of the US healthcare system exacerbate the challenges associated with declining life expectancy. While the system excels in treating acute illnesses and injuries, it falls short when it comes to preventing and managing chronic conditions effectively. With an emphasis on episodic care rather than holistic wellness, individuals with chronic diseases often struggle to access the resources and support they need to manage their conditions effectively. This fragmented approach to healthcare not only leads to poorer health outcomes but also places a significant burden on patients and caregivers alike.

What can you do to minimize the impact of these factors in order to improve your health and extend your lifespan.  First, minimize toxic exposure as much as possible.  Drink filtered water, eat organic fruits and vegetables, eliminate plastics used for storing food, and review cleaning and personal care products to ensure they are made of natural ingredients. Second, focus on reducing stress. Limited screen time, especially before bedtime. Get adequate sleep and exercise.  Consider other stress reducing techniques including meditation and breathwork.  Finally, make sure you are seeing a physician that focuses not on just treating symptoms or disease, but takes a more holistic approach to healthcare and wellness, looking at ways to prevent illness and extend lifespan.

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