People with schizophrenia are 3 times more likely to die, and die at a younger age, than the general population, according to new research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The study examined 1.6 million deaths in Canada over a 20-year period and found that people with schizophrenia died 8 years younger than those in the general population. The higher mortality risk may be associated with higher rates of smoking, alcohol consumption, poor diet, and lack of exercise in people with schizophrenia.

“This study, in addition to documenting astonishingly high mortality rates, also points to an equity issue — that individuals with schizophrenia are not benefiting from public health and health care interventions to the same degree as individuals without schizophrenia,” concluded Paul Kurdyak, MD, PhD, from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario. “The complex needs of individuals with schizophrenia and comorbid medical conditions create a tremendous challenge to providers and health care systems more broadly.”

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Gatov E, Rosella L, Chiu M, Kurdyak PA. Trends in standardized mortality among individuals with schizophrenia, 1993-2012: a population-based, repeated cross-sectional study. CMAJ. 2017; 189(37):E1177-E1187.