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In the Midst of Warnings, Life Expectancy Increases

     But sometimes even a blind squirrel finds a nut. All three broadcast networks found time in the April 19 evening newscasts to nibble on the new numbers released by the federal government.

     We have news here tonight about life and death in America, and it is all good news, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams intoned. New numbers out today show the annual number of deaths in this country dropped by nearly 50,000 in 2004, he continued, citing fewer deaths from heart disease, cancer and stroke.

     Williams added that life expectancy also has been projected upward. A baby born in 2004, according to the government, can expect to live to nearly 78 years old. That is an increase of almost half a year from just 2003.

     CBS Evening News substitute anchor Russ Mitchell included Dr. David Lipschitz of the University of Arkansas, an expert on aging to add Its conceivable that the average American woman will live till age 90 while American men will live on average until their mid-80s.

     ABCs David Muir offered another doctor with a similar view. The older age group pays much more attention to their health, said Dr. Robert Butler of the International Longevity Center, adding that much more physical activity and the availability of certain significant medications like statins are improving the health and consequently life expectancy of senior citizens.