Updated 08:58 AM EDT, Fri, May 14, 2021

Rampant Drug War in Mexico Has Reduced Men’s Life Expectancy

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The rampant drug war violence in Mexico has caused men's life expectancy in the country to drop.

According to the study published by the journal Health Affairs on Tuesday, male life expectancy rates plummeted in all of Mexico's 31 states as violence related to drug war escalated between 2005 and 2010, a period when the government implemented a militarized crackdown on organized crime, The Guardian reported.

Life expectancy for Mexican men is now slightly lower than 72 years, six months lower than in 2005, the news outlet added. This has downplayed a decade of public health improvements in the country.

Life expectancy dropped by as much as three years in the state of Chihuahua, which includes Ciudad Juárez, an area once regarded as the world's murder capital, The Guardian wrote. Oaxaca and Tlaxcala, states not greatly affected by violence, also saw falling life expectancies of six months.

In 2006, then-president Felipe Calderón decided to deploy federal forces to apprehend traffickers. Two authors of the study told The Guardian that falling life expectancy was not a coincidence and is directly connected to the surge of homicide rates after the drug war began.

"After 2005, that's when life expectancy goes down in all the states. That is what made me think that it is homicide that is having a big impact," said Hiram Beltrán-Sánchez, the study's lead researcher and a professor of community health studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, as quoted in The Guardian's report.

Beltrán-Sánchez said that from 2000 to 2005, "homicides were going down," but "went up, very much across the board" after 2005, "when the whole thing exploded and military operations began moving through the country," according to The Guardian.

Mexico's drug war has resulted to the deaths of more than 100,000 individuals and caused the homicide rate from nine murders per 100,000 persons in 2005 to 22 murders per 100,000 in 2010, the news outlet noted. However, the country's homicide rate is still lower than in other Latin American nations, especially those in Central America.

Over the past six decades, Mexico has moved forward in life expectancy as public health and living standards advanced and more Mexicans gained access to health services. Beltrán-Sánchez was expecting a rise of "three or four years" in life expectancy during the last 10 years, but found a reduction of 0.6 years for men and nearly no change for women, The Guardian added.

Researchers said that Seguro Popular, the federal government's program to provide universal healthcare coverage for millions of poor Mexicans, should have increased life expectancies, The Guardian wrote.

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