Is science falling behind the mortality curve?

The pace of scientific discovery continues to progress at breakneck speeds, yet our eternal quest for longer life may be regressing. HealthDay News reported this week that according to a recent federal report life expectancy in the United States dipped slightly from 2007 to 2008. The article highlights the following facts:

  • Stroke was overtaken by chronic lower respiratory diseases as the third leading cause of death
  • Heart disease and cancer still account for roughly half the deaths in the United States
  • Infant mortality rates continued to fall
  • declining life expectancy may be the start of a worrisome trend

For further reading, see HealthDay News

My first reaction to this report is that despite the (ever so slightly) declining life expectancy, science has significantly improved our quality of life and continues to keep us healthy well into our golden years. Furthermore, as stated in the report, the declining mortality rate associated with stroke is a very positive sign that scientists are making progress in the war against vascular disease. Furthermore, increases in mortality rates due to lower respiratory disease may be largely associated with lifestyle factors such as smoking which cannot be blamed on a failure of science.

It would be interesting to hear your reaction to this news. From a scientific perspective, what are your thoughts on declining life expectancy?

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