Thursday, April 29, 2010

Adult death rates lowest in Iceland, Cyprus

By Maria Cheng
AP Medical Writer
updated 2 hours, 52 minutes ago

LONDON - Men in Iceland and women in Cyprus have the lowest risk of dying worldwide, a new study says.

In a survey from 1970 to 2010, researchers found a widening gap between countries with the highest and lowest premature death rates in adults aged 15 to 60. The study was published Friday in the medical journal Lancet.

The findings are in contrast to the trends in child and maternal mortality, where rates are mostly dropping worldwide. Health officials have long thought if child deaths were decreasing and health systems were improving, adult deaths would similarly decline. But that's not what researchers found.

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Only a few countries have cut death rates by more than 2 percent in the last 40 years: Australia, Italy, South Korea, Chile, Tunisia and Algeria. The U.S. lagged significantly behind, dropping to 49th in the rankings for women and 45th for men. That puts it behind all of Western Europe as well as countries including Peru, Chile and Libya.

"The U.S. is definitely on the wrong trajectory," said Chris Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics at the University of Washington, one of the study's authors. "(The U.S.) spends the most on health out of all countries, but (it) is apparently spending on the wrong things."

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