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Health Watch: Startling Statistics About Prescription Painkiller Overdoses

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warningdoctors to be careful when prescribing prescription painkillers to theirpatients.

New statistics from the CDC show the number of women who diedfrom prescription painkiller overdoses rose 400 percent between 1999 and 2010.

The report says during that time nearly 48–thousand womendied overdosing on painkillers including vicodin and oxycontin.

66–hundred women died from prescription drug overdoses in2010.

That's four times as many who died from cocaine and heroincombined.

"They shouldn't be used lightly, where they are essential,necessary, something like severe cancer pain, they are important tools, says CDCDirector Dr. Tom Frieden. "But all too often, the risks are way higher than thebenefits."

The report finds prescription painkiller overdoses are alsoon the rise for men, but not as sharply as for women.

Previous research has shown that women are more likely tohave chronic pain, more likely to be prescribed painkillers, and more likely tobe given higher doses.

Studies have also shown that women may become dependent onprescription painkillers more quickly than men.

In 2010, More than 200–thousand women visited emergency roomsfor opioid misuse or abuse. That's about one woman every three minutes.

Health experts say there are steps women can take to staysafe from prescription painkiller overdoses.

Dr. Tod Bania of Roosevelt Hospital says: "Use it onlyas indicated on the bottle and when you finish taking the prescription painmedications, get rid of the prescription pain medications. Do not save them foranother time."

And always discuss all medications you take with your doctor.