U.S. life expectancy has risen to a new high, now standing at nearly 78 years, the government reported Wednesday. The increase is due mainly to falling death rates in almost all the leading causes of death. The average life expectancy for babies born in 2007 is nearly three months greater than for children born in 2006.
The death rate from heart disease dropped nearly 5 percent in 2007, and the cancer death rate fell nearly 2 percent, according to the report. The HIV death rate dropped 10 percent, the biggest one-year decline in 10 years. The diabetes death rate fell about 4 percent, allowing Alzheimer's disease to surpass diabetes to become the sixth leading cause of death.