For over a century, women have outlived men, but recent research by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the University of California reveals a widening gap in the U.S.
The study attributes this trend to factors including the COVID-19 pandemic and the opioid overdose epidemic.
Published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the research shows that the difference in life expectancy between American men and women surged over the prior decade to 5.8 years in 2021.
The pandemic, unintentional injuries, drug overdoses, accidents, and suicide are major contributors.
Life expectancy in the U.S. dropped to 76.1 years in 2021, down from 78.8 years in 2019. "Deaths of despair," linked to economic hardship, depression and stress, remain a major factor in this mix.
Concluding the study, the study's co-author Brandon Yan suggested a need for specialized care for men in mental health to address this growing life expectancy disparity.
Furthermore, the researchers emphasized the importance of monitoring these trends and investing in prevention and care to prevent further disparities.