This thread is quibbling over the little stuff while ignoring the bigger trend. The question asks about the trend since 1890. The life expectancy for white males in the US (from birth) was 42.5 in 1890 and 76.3 in 2011. Other demographic groups have similar increases. And the increase has been pretty consistent year to year.
As the original post stated, over the past 100 years, the life expectancy in the US has nearly doubled. This trend is seen in developed countries throughout the world.
There are many reasons.
- Vaccinations save millions of lives.
- Antibiotics cure diseases that were once deadly.
- Clean drinking water. (This is an amazing advancement we take for granted).
- Fewer wars and Fewer suicides and less lung cancer (I have to correct the original post).
- A much lower infant mortality rate due to better medical care.
- Advancements in medical care. (From defibrillators to transplants)
- Better medical care in general. (We all have access to a hospital)
- Food security (there are very few people who die of hunger in developed countries now).
- Safer working conditions (thanks to the labor movement).
- Fast, safe transportation.
- Houses aren't lit by lanterns.
That is just the beginning of the list. The point is, human advancement is a good thing for life expectancy.