Americans' life expectancy hits new record, men close gap

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The average U.S. life expectancy rose to a new high in 2005 - 77.9 years, or 2.1 years more than 12 years ago. In addition, the difference between life expectancies for men and women narrowed to 5.2 years, the smallest difference in 60 years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday.

A girl born today can expect to live to an average age of 80.4 years; similarly, a newborn boy could expect an average lifespan of 75.2 years, the CDC reported.

The overall death rate in 2005 hit a record low of 800 per 10,000, officials said. A CDC expert attributed the improvement to significant drops in deaths due to heart disease, cancer and stroke - the three leading causes of death in the United States. He attributed the better outcomes to improved preventive efforts and medical treatments.

The CDC report can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/07newsreleases/lifeexpectancy.htm.