Female life expectancy drops for the first time since 1995

Believed that older generations' attitudes to smoking and drinking may have contributed to the decline

Female life expectancy has dropped dramatically as older women reap the rewards of lifestyle choices that have seen them drink and smoke regularly.

For the first time since 1995 the average life expectancy for women aged 65, 75, 85, and 95 fell in 2012, according to a government report.

The same survey also found that life expectancy for men in their sixties and seventies had stalled and fallen for those in their eighties and nineties.

A 75-year-old woman in 2011 could expect to live five weeks longer than an identically aged female just a year later.

The change for the generation above is even harsher: an average 85-year-old female now has a life expectancy of 6.8 years, meaning in two years the average has fallen by two and a half months.

Alongside this survey is statistical data that shows alcohol-related hospital admissions (for both sexes in their 60s) have tripled in a decade.

Lung cancer has also overtaken breast cancer as the most deadly form of the disease, with 16,000 deaths compared to 12,000 each year.

“One of the issues we have seen is women living lifestyle’s becoming more like those of men over recent decades, with more smoking and drinking,” Prof John Ashton, president of the UK Faculty of Public Health, told The Daily Telegraph.

However, experts resisted calls for alarm, stating that they needed a third year of data to establish whether the figures from 2012 and 2013 demonstrated a true decline in life expectancy or a levelling off.