[Excerpt of front-page article by Harrison Connery, with block quote featuring DataHaven by Martha Shanahan, in the Republican-American]

July 5, 2019

WATERBURY — Life expectancy in Connecticut is third in the nation, at 80.8 years, according to data from the Journal of the American Medical Association.

One factor in residents’ longevity is the state’s falling cancer mortality rate, which has fallen by more than 21% over the past decade, good for the second highest rate in the country, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Data compiled by a New Haven-based data collection nonprofit shows life expectancy varies widely between Waterbury and its surrounding towns.

While average life expectancy in 21 towns in Greater Waterbury was only slightly under the Connecticut average and slightly above the national average, the difference between Waterbury and nearby towns was as much as much as 8.6 years.

Analyzing 2010-2015 census data collected by the CDC’s U.S. Small-area Life Expectancy Estimates Project (USALEEP), DataHaven showed that life expectancy in that time in Greater Waterbury was 79.6 years.

The average in Waterbury was 76.6 years, while the average in higher-income towns like Middlebury and Woodbury was 85.4 and 84.6 years.

Life expectancy also varied by several years between Torrington and the towns around that city.

Torrington’s average life expectancy was 77.7 years, lower than most of the wealthier surrounding towns by several years — the average in New Hartford was 83.1 years, in Harwinton 83.3 years and Goshen 82.6 years.

A 2018 DataHaven report on health in the Waterbury area showed that between 2008 and 2012, the city had higher rates of premature death from infant mortality, injury — which includes drug overdose — cancer, accidents, heart disease, homicide, suicide, stroke, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, liver disease and alcohol than the rest of the state. The authors of the DataHaven report attributed the lower life expectancy to the higher rates of infant mortality, injuries and heart disease in Waterbury.

Torrington had higher rates of heart disease and lung cancer than the state average.

— Martha Shanahan

In men, mortality rates for eight kinds of cancer, including colorectal, lung and prostate are down, and in women kidney, ovarian and breast cancer mortality rates are down, among others, though liver cancer mortality has risen, according to the state Department of Public Health.

Experts say a confluence of factors is responsible for Connecticut’s success, including wider access to affordable care, advances in treatment and healthy living.

“Everyone has to recognize there is such an overlap between the health care, the politics, the finances and the social structure and that each influences the other,” said Dr. Howard Selinger, chair of family medicine at Quinnipiac University’s Frank H. Netter School of Medicine.

One driving force is the Affordable Care Act, passed in 2010 under the administration of President Barack Obama, which fundamentally altered the role of healthcare providers.