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Sleeping tablets 'increase risk of cancer and death'

A new study in the British Medical Journal found that the tablets could have caused more than 300,000 deaths in the United States alone.
Feb 28th 2012, 8:18 AM 3,154 9

SLEEPING TABLETS HAVE been linked to a significantly higher risk of cancer and death for users.

Researchers found that the commonly-used medication is associated with a more than fourfold risk of death and a significant increase in cancer cases among regular pill takers.

The study published in the BMJ Open journal today was carried out in the US and looked at more than 10,000 people who took sleeping pills as well as more than 23,000 people who didn’t use them.

Researchers suggest that the drugs could be associated with 320,000 to 507,000 deaths in the United States alone.

The study looked at eight of the most commonly used sleeping tablets, including temazepam and zolpidem, which are generally used for short-term relief.

The research is the first time that some of the most commonly used sleeping tablets were associated with increased risks of death and cancer. The increased risk of death was still present among patients who took less than 18 sleeping pills per year.

The rate of new cancers detected was 35 per cent higher among patients who were prescribed more than 132 tablets per year compared to people who did not take the drugs.

“What our study shows is that sleeping pills are hazardous to your health and might cause death by contributing to the occurrence of cancer, heart disease and other ailments,” said Dr Daniel Kripke, one of the paper’s authors.

Read the full journal article on BMJ Open here >

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Christine Bohan

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