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CDC: Prescription Drug Overdoses and Binge Drinking Vary by Race, Income

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In a first-of-its-kind report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) broke down data on health disparities by race, ethnicity, income, and education, The New York Times reported Jan. 13.

The report included data on the impact of alcohol and drug use on different segments of the United States population. For example, more Americans now die from prescription drug overdoses than from illicit drugs. In particular, White, non-Hispanic deaths from prescription drug overdoses outnumber those of African-Americans.

The Times said that the “trend switched in 2002, after doctors began prescribing more powerful painkillers, antidepressants and antipsychotics – more easily obtained by people with health insurance.”

Many of the health disparities, like obesity or tobacco use, worsened for individuals with low incomes, or who lacked education or insurance.

One exception was binge drinking, which is on the rise. Unlike many other health disparities, the problem — consuming four drinks at a sitting for women, and five for men — is more common among those with higher incomes and better education.

Low-income individuals, however, consume more alcohol when they binge, Native Americans especially.

The full report, CDC Health Disparities and Inequalities Report – United States, 2011 (PDF), was published Jan. 14, 2011 in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Supplement / Volume 60.

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