Globally, cold temperatures kill more people

The study includes more than 74 million deaths in 13 countries, according to Yuming Guo. (Credit: Anu Tuominen via Vilseskogen/Flickr)

Sweltering and chilly weather both kill people, but new research finds that most of the mortality burden is due to colder days.

“During the winter months people should be mindful to cover up and protect themselves from the cold weather,” says research fellow Yuming Guo of the University of Queensland’s School of Public Health.

Guo says the study was based on the largest dataset ever collected for evaluating temperature-health associations, including more than 74 million deaths in 13 countries.

Researchers collected data for 384 locations in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, UK, and the US, totaling 74,225,200 deaths between 1985 and 2012.

Guo says the data analysis provides evidence on the temperature-related mortality risk in a wide range of climates and populations with different demographic, socioeconomic, and infrastructural characteristics.

“This evidence has important implications for the planning of public health interventions to minimize the health consequences of adverse temperatures, and for predicting the future impact under climate change scenarios,” he says.

“While a few studies have estimated premature deaths attributable to either heat or cold in selected countries, this is the first to offer a systematic assessment of the whole temperature range in populations exposed to different climates.”

Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine also contributed to the study, which appears in The Lancet.

Source: University of Queensland