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Sleeping pills increasing risk of death.

SLEEPING pills commonly prescribed in the UK may increase the risk of death more than four-fold, according to new research.

The higher the dose, the greater the risk of dying, while people on higher doses also had an increased risk of cancer, experts discovered.

A wide range of drugs was analysed for the study of more than 10,500 people taking sleeping pills.

They included drugs such as benzodiazepines, including temazepam and diazepam, non-benzodiazepines such as zolpidem, zopiclone and zaleplon, barbiturates and sedative antihistamines, commonly prescribed to the third of people in the UK who suffer with bouts of insomnia.

Research, from experts at the Jackson Hole Centre for Preventive Medicine in Wyoming and the Scripps Clinic Viterbi Family Sleep Centre in California, found that people prescribed sleeping pills were 4.6 times more likely to die during a 2.5 year period compared to those not on the drugs.

Even those on the lowest doses of four to 18 pills a year had a 3.6 times higher risk of dying compared to non-users.

The findings were published in the journal BMJ Open last night.

Editor in chief Dr Trish Groves said "These findings raise important concerns and questions about the safety of sedatives and sleeping pills."
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Feb 28, 2012
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