Anxiety, sleep drugs linked to higher Alzheimer’s risk
A French-Canadian study has found that there may be a link between Alzheimer’s disease and long-term use of pills for anxiety and sleep problems.
The study found that benzodiazepine use--a drug used to treat anxiety and sleep problems--for three months or more was linked to more than a 50 percent increased risk of developing dementia. The study analyzed 2,000 cases of Alzheimer’s disease in adults, 66 and over living in Quebec and 7,000 healthy people of the same age living in the same community.
The researchers acknowledged that the nature of the link between long-term use of the drug and Alzheimer’s was unclear. Anxiety and sleep disturbance are also early indicators of the disease so they may already have been in the early stages of Alzheimer's when they began taking the medication.
The study concluded, however, that any unmonitored and “unwarranted long-term use of these drugs should be considered as a public health concern”.