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World’s Life Expectancy Increases Again, WHO Reports

Update Date: May 16, 2014 10:06 AM EDT

According to the latest numbers compiled from the World Health Organization (WHO), the global average life expectancies for males and females have increased. Now, boys can expect to live up to 68-years-old whereas girls can live to 73. WHO credits the rise in life expectancy on huge advances in treating infectious diseases.

"There are major gains in life expectancy in recent decades and they continue," said Ties Boerma, chief of statistics and information systems at the WHO reported by FOX News. "We're seeing a health transition from success in infectious diseases to more people dying, including at younger ages, from non-communicable diseases."

The report named Japan as the country with the longest life expectancy for females at 87-years-old. For males, Iceland had the highest rate at 81.2-years-old. Other countries that made the top 10 list for longest life expectancies in both sexes were Switzerland, Singapore, Italy and Luxembourg. On the other hand, the lowest life expectancy at less than 55-years-old for both genders was in sub-Saharan Africa. However, the report found that human life expectancy has increased over the years and does not appear to be slowing down.

"If human life expectancy was capped at population level at around 90 years of life we would expect to see a slowdown as we approach those limits. We're not seeing that," said Colin Mathers, coordinator of WHO's statistics on mortality.

The report also detailed causes of "years of life lost," which is a number that factors in the effects of certain diseases on the death rates in younger people. The researchers reported that diarrhea and respiratory infections, which are the biggest causes of premature death, fell by 40 and 30 percent respectively from 2000 to 2012. During this time frame, years of life lost caused by road injuries increased by 14 percent. The researchers reasoned that as developing countries grew, the number of people driving also increased.

"An important reason why global life expectancy has improved so much is that fewer children are dying before their fifth birthday," WHO chief Margaret Chan added reported by Medical Xpress. "But there is still a major rich-poor divide: people in high-income countries continue to have a much better chance of living longer than people in low-income countries."

The WHO's news release can be accessed here.

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