Cocaine deaths linked to warmer weather

March 3, 2010 at 6:07 PM
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ANN ARBOR, Mich., March 3 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say accidental deaths from cocaine overdose go up when outdoor temperatures get warmer.

Researchers at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor found the death rate from accidental cocaine overdose in New York City went up significantly when the average weekly ambient temperature was greater than 75 degrees Fahrenheit, or 24 degrees Celsius. The number of deaths related to overdoses of cocaine -- which causes body core temperatures to rise -- continued to rise with temperature climbs.

The study, published online in the journal Addiction, corrects previous research relating increases in cocaine deaths to temperatures higher than 87.9 degrees Fahrenheit -- the temperature increase is much lower at 75 degrees F. Average weekly temperature in New York City is above 75 degrees Fahrenheit about seven weeks per year.

"Cocaine users are at a high risk for a number of negative health outcomes and need public health attention, particularly when the weather is warm," study lead author Dr. Amy Bohnert said in a statement.

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