Drug Deaths Soar for Middle-Aged Women

Prescription painkillers the culprit, says CDC

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 2, 2013 6:54 PM CDT

(Newser) – Prescription painkillers are fast becoming a serious health menace to women, says the CDC. Some highlights from a new study, as noted by the Boston Globe, USA Today, the New York Times, and AP:

  • Eighteen women a day die from a prescription drug overdose.
  • Overall, men are still more likely to die from such overdoses—23,000 vs. 15,300 in 2010—but women are catching up. The rate of fatal overdoses among women rose about fivefold between 1999 and 2010, while the rate among men tripled.
  • The biggest increases in deaths were in women ages 45 through 54, and 55 through 64. The rate for each of group more than tripled over the last decade.
  • Drug overdoses now claim more women's lives than car accidents or cervical cancer.
  • Why? Some theories floated include women's smaller body masses, a growing body of research suggesting they suffer more more chronic pain than men, and their propensity to go "doctor shopping"—visiting physicians until they find one willing to write prescriptions.
  • "Mothers, wives, sisters and daughters are dying at rates that we have never seen before," says CDC chief Thomas Frieden, who wants the study to be a wake-up call to doctors.

  (Shutterstock)
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