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Japanese women retain crown as oldest living humans

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TOKYO, July 11 (AFP) - Japanese women remained the oldest living humans in 2002 as the government announced Friday their average lifespans rose 110 days to 85.23 years.

Japanese men also lived longer, with average lifespans up 91 days to 78.32 years, the health ministry said in an annual report.

It was the third year in a row both sexes broke records for longevity, and the 18th year Japanese women retained their title as the longest living people, the ministry said.

"There are fewer deaths from cancer and strokes in the elderly, which is one of the reasons lifespans increased," said ministry official Yoko Shirai.

Suicides, however, kept down the average increase for Japanese men, the ministry said.

Death by suicide trimmed the average lifespan of Japanese men by 266 days, up from 256 a year earlier, but only 113 days off women's lifespans, unchanged from 2001.

Men had a 2.61 percent chance of dying by suicide in 2002, while for women the percentage was only 1.10 percent.

The ministry said Hong Kong women were close behind the Japanese, living on average 84.6 years, followed by French (82.5), Australian (82.4), Italian (82. 14), and Canadian women (82.0).

Hong Kong men outlived their Japanese peers, living an average 78.4 years, followed by Icelandic (78.1), Swedish (77.73), Australian (77.0), and Swiss men (76.9).



COPYRIGHT 2003 Agence France-Presse. All rights reserved.

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