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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Prescription Drug Overdose Deaths Among Women

While prescription drug abuse has been linked to deaths in practically every demographic, new research suggests that over the last 15 years, prescription painkillers related deaths have been on the rise among white women ages 15 to 54 in the United States, The Washington Post reports. The new findings come from the Urban Institute, whose study found 15.9 per 100,000 white women lost their lives from opioid-related complications in 2011, up from 3.3 per 100,000 in 1999.

“A lot of theories out there suggest stress has major effects on our health,” said co-author Nan Astone, a senior research fellow at the Urban Institute’s Labor, Human Services and Population Center. “We know that white women are single parents more often than they ever have been before. They’re more often the breadwinner. They’re juggling a lot of roles.”

The researchers found that between 1992 and 2006, in 42.8 percent of U.S. counties death rates for women increased, compared to 3.4 percent of counties for men during the same period. Death rates climbed significantly only among white women ages 15 to 54 between 1999 and 2011, while some of the deaths could be tied to smoking, half of the deaths could be directly linked to drug overdoses, according to the study.

Between 1999 and 2011, death rates from accidental poisoning for non-Hispanic black women also increased, from 4.8 to 7.4 per 100,000 per year.

“This increase, however, was not nearly as much as it was for white women,” the researchers wrote. “In fact, the death rates from accidental poisoning are now much lower for blacks (7.4) than for whites (15.9).”

The Urban Institute study can be viewed in full, here.

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