Overdose deaths in middle-aged women have increased by 260% in recent years in the United States, according to a report from the country's health authorities released today.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that between 1999 and 2017 there was an increase in the number of deaths in women aged 30 to 64 years due to drug overdoses that include antidepressants, benzodiazepines, cocaine, heroin, prescription opioids and opioids synthetic
"Overdose deaths continue to be unacceptably high and efforts are needed to reduce these deaths in this growing epidemic," the researchers said.
In the same period there was an increase in deaths due to overdoses of 200% among women aged 35 to 39 and 45 to 49 years old, 350% among those aged 30 to 34 and 50 to 54 and almost 500% among those of 55 to 64.
The researchers observed an increase of 6.7 deaths per 100,000 people (4,314) in 1999 to 24.3 per 100,000 people (18,110) in 2017.
Deaths from overdoses with synthetic opioids increased by 1643%, while heroin increased by 915% and benzodiazepines by 830%.
Other major types of drugs or medications linked to overdoses were antidepressants, opioid prescription drugs and cocaine.
Of all the drugs and medications cited, fentanyl, which is a synthetic opioid, was cited as the drug that was most related to deaths from overdoses in 2016, both among men and women.
Fentanyl had a 113% increase as a cause of death from overdose between 1999 and 2017, according to the CDC report.
The study also notes that some of the overdose deaths may have been due to more than one drug or medication.
According to a previous report from the CDC, overdose deaths are more common in rural areas than those recorded in metropolitan areas.
The increase in overdose deaths, coupled with the increase in suicides, led to a decline in Americans' life expectancy for the third consecutive year in 2017, standing at 78.6 years, according to figures released by the CDC in November.