Drug Overdose Deaths Rise Again (For the 11th Straight Year)

Prescription drugs were the main culprit in the drug overdose deaths. Plus, more of today's health headlines.

The number of deaths from drug overdoses rose in the U.S. for the 11th straight year. And last year, pharmaceuticals were involved in more than half of those deaths. Opioids like Vicodin were the most common drugs implicated in the fatalities. In November, we reported that Greater Boston, despite being one of the fittest cities in the country, was also had the most drug-related emergency room visits in the country in 2011. And not by a small margin either. We had four times as many drug related ER visits than New York city, Chicago, and Detroit. [NPR]

What’s the one item you should buy organic? Tomatoes! According to a new study in the journal PLOS ONE, organic tomatoes contain 55 percent more vitamin C and 140 percent more disease-fighting phenols than conventionally-grown tomatoes. [Men’s Health]

Time magazine’s cover story called “Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills are Killing Us” is 24,000 words and the longest article the magazine has ever published by one author. The piece is an in-depth look at the exorbitant prices of health care and is definitely worth a read if you have an hour (or two, or three, depending on how slow you read). [Time]

Antioxidants in coffee and tea may not help dementia, according to a new study published in the online journal Neurology. The study, which followed 5,400 people aged 55 years and older for nearly 14 years, found that those who consumed antioxidant rich diets did not change their risk of developing brain disease. [CNN]

Pharmacies like Walgreens are partnering with hospitals to prevent return visits. In October, the federal government started penalizing hospitals if too many of their patients return right away. About 1 in 5 Medicare patients who leave the hospital come back within 30 days. The return trips cost taxpayers about $17 billion a year. Hospitals hope that by partnering with pharmacies, they can help patients with their medications and reduce return visits. [NPR]