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Christmas: Deadliest Day of the Year

By    |   Tuesday, 24 Dec 2013 02:50 PM

It's enough to make Ebenezer Scrooge smile. In what certainly qualifies as the bah-humbug medical science story of 2013, a new analysis of mortality statistics has determined more people die on December 25th than on any other day of the year.
 
The findings, reported by the Medical Daily Website, are based on multiple data sources indicating the trend dates back at least 1970s, when researchers began examining death records throughout the year.
 
The reasons are unclear, but researchers at the University of California-San Diego who conducted the review speculated that several factors may account for the Christmas Day death spiral — including understaffed hospitals during the holidays and an unwillingness by some to bother relatives with a trip to the hospital on Christmas. Other theories suggest stress, cold weather, and seasonal illnesses (such as influenza) as other potential contributors.
 
According to the research, the six most common causes of the death spike around Christmas are heart disease, respiratory disorders, endocrine/nutritional/metabolic problems, digestive conditions, cancer, and Alzheimer's.
 
Lead researcher David P. Phillips, of the UCSD sociology department, said his review showed that hospitals typically do not carry their full staff, or their most experienced healthcare workers, during the holidays. A 2012 study showed that "patients admitted as medical emergencies on public holidays were 48 percent more likely to die within seven days and 27 percent more likely to do so within 30 days," he noted.
 
"For those deaths, the spike was even sharper," Phillips said. "Those are the cases where seconds make a difference, and you may see a real difference between the response of a junior and senior member of staff."
 
He also noted that suicide is not a factor in holiday-related deaths. Despite the widespread notion that suicides increase around Christmas time, death statistics compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention find that this is not the case.

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More people die on December 25th than on any other day of the year, a new analysis of mortality statistics has determined.
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2013-50-24
Tuesday, 24 Dec 2013 02:50 PM
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