(WPRI) -- A recent study has uncovered a startling new statistic involving prescription painkillers.
Government health experts say middle-aged women are the fastest growing group of people dying from drug overdoses.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is warning doctors to be careful when prescribing prescription painkillers to their patients. The report from the CDC shows nearly 48,000 women died from prescription painkiller overdoses between 1999 and 2010, a 400 percent increase between those years.
The report find prescription painkiller overdoses are also on the rise for men, but not as sharply as for women. Previous research has shown that women are more likely to have chronic pain, more likely to be prescribed painkillers such as Vicodin and Oxycontin, and more likely to be given higher doses and become dependent on prescription painkillers than men.
"They shouldn't be used lightly, where they are essential, necessary, something like sever cancer pain, they are important tools. But all too often, the risks are way higher than the benefits," said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden.
Health experts say there are steps women can take to stay safe from prescription painkiller overdoses, such as always using the dose indicated on the bottle, throwing away any prescription pain medication not being used, and always discuss all medications with your doctor.
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