Life expectancy in Mass. hit all-time high in 2009: 80.7 years

Life expectancy for people in Massachusetts hit an all-time high in 2009, as the rate of deaths from major killers, such as heart disease and cancer, declined, according to a report released Wednesday by the state Department of Public Health.

Overall life expectancy from birth was 80.7 years in 2009, the most recent year for which data are available, compared with 78.5 years nationally. Since 2000, death rates in the state from stroke, heart disease, all cancers combined, and diabetes have continued to drop.

Deaths from HIV and AIDS have dropped dramatically in recent years. Nearly 1,000 people died in both 1994 and 1995, during the peak of the epidemic. In 2009, there were 124 deaths from HIV and AIDS. The decline, the authors write, is the result of advances in treatment and a reduction in the infection rate.

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The previous decade brought a spike in deaths from poisoning, mostly attributable to opioid overdoses, which have levelled off some in recent years. In 2009, 627 deaths were related to opioid use, up from 363 in 2000. The suicide rate also increased by about 2 percent each year since 2000. In 2009, there were 8 suicides per 100,000 people.

The overall death rate for black people in Massachusetts continued to be higher than that for whites, at 812 deaths per 100,000 people compared with 683 per 100,000 people. The numbers for Hispanics and Asians were considerably lower, but the authors note that those rates are difficult to calculate and may be higher then what was reported.

Life expectancy varied considerably by town or city, according to the report. The 2009 life expectancy of people in Boston was 80 years, equal to the estimate for Lawrence and slightly above the 78 years expected in Worcester or Fall River.

The odds are in your favor in Brookline, where life expectancy was 87 years. In Cambridge and Somerville, the number was 83.

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