BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - A recent study shows women in parts of the U.S. aren't living as long as they used to.
The latest numbers show the average life span for a baby girl born today in the United States is 81, and for a baby boy - it's 76.
A baby girl born today in New York State can expect to live longer than 83 years. And the life expectancy in New York - for both males and females - went up significantly over the first decade of this century.
But across the country, things haven't been uniformly good. Over a 14-year period, up to 2006, female mortality rose, and life expectancy fell, in more than 40 percent of American counties. Those counties tended to be in the South, in rural areas, and counties where fewer women finished high school. That implicated lifestyle factors.
Erie County Health Commissioner, Dr. Gale Burstein, is a big proponent of lifestyle's changes.
"We have a lot of control over our destiny and longevity by our lifestyle behaviors," she said.
Although life expectance improved statewide, Erie County still lags behind the rest of the state in mortality due to major illnesses. For instance, both men and women in Erie County are more likely to die of cancer than people in the rest of the state. That's also true for heart disease - both men and women do worse here than in the rest of the state. Dr. Burstein points out a common feature or those illnesses.
"Number one, stop smoking, quit smoking and have the people around you stop smoking, because second-hand smoke is a big contributor to early death," she noted.
For more tips: www.erie.gov/health
The keys to a longer life for most of us are quite simple: stop smoking, eat better, exercise more, know your numbers - like blood pressure and cholesterol, and if recommended, take your medicine.
Dr. Burstein said, "There are things that we can do to make ourselves healthier; to improve our quality of life and our life expectancy."
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