If you're a woman living in Madison County, Mississippi, you might want to consider moving. Females in certain parts of the country are dying younger than they did a generation ago, according to new data. In general, life expectancies of women in the US have dropped the most they have since the Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918, reports the LA Times. The worst performing areas were in Appalachia, the Deep South, and the lower Midwest. Life expectancy for women in Madison County dropped 2.5 years since 1997—the most in the US.
The new study shows a backslide after nearly a century of increased lifespans, and experts blame an increase in the effects of smoking, obesity, and high blood pressure. The downward spiral began before 1997, but accelerated during the past decade. One of the key factors behind the locations of falling life expectancies is the division of wealth unseen in other countries like Canada and Japan. "Inequality appears to be growing in the US," says a gerontologist at USC. "We are different than other countries." (Read more life expectancy stories.)