(Image Source: Flickr/AaronGoselin)   

BY VICTORIA CRAIG

A new study suggests you might want to think twice about turning to sleeping pills for help falling asleep. Fox News has the details.

“A new study shows medications for short-term insomnia are linked to a nearly four-fold increase in death — even for people who take small doses.”

The study, conducted by researchers at Scripps Clinic Sleep Center, looked at more than 10,000 patients taking prescription sleep medication, and compared them to nearly 24,000 patients not taking the drugs. Time explains a patient’s risk increased with the number of doses prescribed.

“Patients who were given pills more frequently — between 18 and 132 doses a year — were more than four times more likely to be dead by the end of the study. Among patients taking 132 doses or more a year, the risk of death was more than five times than for those not taking sleeping pills.”


But the risk to patients doesn’t end there. The study also found a 35 percent higher risk of cancer. San Diego’s KSWB caught up with the study’s lead researcher to explain how that happens.

“We know that these drugs break chromosomes, which is a known chemical way of causing cancer.”

Though the numbers might sound alarming, the Wall Street Journal advises readers not to throw out their prescription bottles just yet — saying there’s no guarantee the sleep aids were the cause of death in all cases.



“The study authors say … they couldn’t take into account depression, anxiety or other psychiatric problems because of state laws covering the confidentiality of those diagnoses...The research also didn’t identify the cause of death …  Were the drug users more likely to be killed in car crashes or other accidents, for example? Or did they mostly die of cancer? We don’t know.”


Still, one Austin, Texas doctor says risk could be avoided — and doctors too often fall back on prescriptions to give patients piece of mind. He tells Austin's KTBC sleep aids are over-prescribed.

“They’ve been marketed extensively and there’s a great deal of pressure coming from many sides — patients primarily but also from other doctors to do this for them, for patients.”

The Atlantic reports though the study’s authors haven’t been able to present hard evidence sleep aids cause premature death, the study is creating an important dialogue about the safety of sedatives and sleeping pills.

Study Finds Sleeping Pills Can Increase Risk of Death

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Mar 1, 2012

Study Finds Sleeping Pills Can Increase Risk of Death

(Image Source: Flickr/AaronGoselin)   

BY VICTORIA CRAIG

A new study suggests you might want to think twice about turning to sleeping pills for help falling asleep. Fox News has the details.

“A new study shows medications for short-term insomnia are linked to a nearly four-fold increase in death — even for people who take small doses.”

The study, conducted by researchers at Scripps Clinic Sleep Center, looked at more than 10,000 patients taking prescription sleep medication, and compared them to nearly 24,000 patients not taking the drugs. Time explains a patient’s risk increased with the number of doses prescribed.

“Patients who were given pills more frequently — between 18 and 132 doses a year — were more than four times more likely to be dead by the end of the study. Among patients taking 132 doses or more a year, the risk of death was more than five times than for those not taking sleeping pills.”


But the risk to patients doesn’t end there. The study also found a 35 percent higher risk of cancer. San Diego’s KSWB caught up with the study’s lead researcher to explain how that happens.

“We know that these drugs break chromosomes, which is a known chemical way of causing cancer.”

Though the numbers might sound alarming, the Wall Street Journal advises readers not to throw out their prescription bottles just yet — saying there’s no guarantee the sleep aids were the cause of death in all cases.



“The study authors say … they couldn’t take into account depression, anxiety or other psychiatric problems because of state laws covering the confidentiality of those diagnoses...The research also didn’t identify the cause of death …  Were the drug users more likely to be killed in car crashes or other accidents, for example? Or did they mostly die of cancer? We don’t know.”


Still, one Austin, Texas doctor says risk could be avoided — and doctors too often fall back on prescriptions to give patients piece of mind. He tells Austin's KTBC sleep aids are over-prescribed.

“They’ve been marketed extensively and there’s a great deal of pressure coming from many sides — patients primarily but also from other doctors to do this for them, for patients.”

The Atlantic reports though the study’s authors haven’t been able to present hard evidence sleep aids cause premature death, the study is creating an important dialogue about the safety of sedatives and sleeping pills.

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