Interesting. The L.A. Timesreports on a surprising (though preliminary) finding from the US Centers for Disease Control: despite population growth, some 50,000 fewer US residents died in 2004 than in 2003. Death rates for eleven of the thirteen major causes of death—heart disease, cancer, and strokes among them—all declined, and life expectancy rose by about 4 months.

That’s a pretty big deal. But it looks like Idaho and Washington both fared even better than the national average. Between 2003 and 2004, life expectancy rose by 7 months in Washington and 8 months in Idaho, both of which match the biggest year-over-year increase since 1980.