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Number One Killer in US? Not Auto Accidents Anymore

Fatal car crash
(Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

It used to be auto accidents were the number one cause of what is called ‘injury’ death in the US, but not anymore.

Injury death is considered dying from ‘non-natural causes’ such as cancer, heart attacks etc.   The new number one killer of Americans is poisoning.  According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) for the first time since prior to 1980,  death from poisoning exceeded auto accidents.  This recent report is based upon 2008 data, the most recent information available.   Over 40,000 people died from poisoning, opposed to just over 38,000 from auto accidents of all types.    The real telling statistic: 9 out of ten of  these deaths were from drugs, namely, misuse.  Prescription medications were at the top of drug deaths, from abuse and misuse.  Also, surprisingly, the drug poisoning rate was the highest (and FASTEST growing) among men ages 45-54, especially white or non-hispanic men.    Some of the drugs most misused included hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, methadone. While the CDC says misuse or overdose of these drugs was a leading cause of death,  most of them were considered to be “unintentional” or accidental–drug abusers trying to get high, and overdosing and killing themselves.  These are some surprising and sobering statistics.

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