American men account for more drug overdose death cases when compared to women, a new study has found.

The study led by scientists from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City and the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found men were two to three times more likely to die of a drug overdose than women.

Drugs like opioids, fentanyl, and heroin were found to have been involved in the cases of the deaths. However, it is yet to be determined whether factors like misuse or abuse impacted the increasing figures of mortality.

"Though men and women are being exposed to the modern, fentanyl-contaminated drug supply, something is leading men to die at significantly higher rates. It may be that men use drugs more frequently or in greater doses, which could increase their risk of death, or there may be protective factors among women that reduce their risk of death compared to men," said Dr. Nora Volkow, the study's co-author and director of NIDA, in a news release.

"Understanding the biological, behavioral, and social factors that impact drug use and our bodies' responses is critical to developing tailored tools to protect people from fatal overdose and other harms of drug use," Volkow added in the NIDA news release.

As part of the study, researchers analyzed information about drug overdose deaths among individuals aged 15 to 74, referencing data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Epidemiologic Research platform. Alongside this, the researchers also used data from the annual National Surveys on Drug Use and Health to estimate and control for rates of drug misuse in men compared to women.

The researchers then studied drug overdose deaths. They examined heroin, stimulants, and cocaine. Among every 100,000 people, around 5.5 men and 2 women died from a heroin overdose. For stimulants, about 13 men and 5.6 women out of every 100,000 people died from overdosing. Concerning cocaine, approximately 10.6 men and 4.2 women out of every 100,000 people died from overdosing.

Data by 10-year age groups also showed that men had greater rates of death than women, with synthetic opioids being a key catalyst.

The study authors proposed that the results can be explained by a mix of factors. These include the possibility that men may be more biologically vulnerable to the harmful effects of drugs, as well as differences in how they take drugs, which might involve riskier behaviors. Additionally, social and gender-related factors could also contribute to these findings.

"These data emphasize the importance of looking at the differences between men and women in a multilayered way," lead study author Eduardo Butelman, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, told UPI. "Moving forward, it will be important for researchers to continue to investigate how biology, social factors and behaviors intersect with sex and gender factors, and how all of these can impact addictive drug misuse and overdose deaths."

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