Sleeping Drug Deaths Top 500,000?
Have you been tossing and turning lately? If the answer is yes -- maybe because of menopausal night sweats or simply because worries are keeping you up nights -- you may have turned to medications for relief. However, according to recent research done at Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, California, popping sleeping pills could be dangerous and even lethal.Patients in the study who got prescriptions for common hypnotic drugs had what MedPageToday called "a markedly increased risk of mortality as well as an increased cancer incidence."
Specifically, use of the sleep aids was associated with a three- to five-fold higher mortality risk than that of the control group, and this result held true even when dosages were small.
Daniel F. Kripke, MD, lead author of the findings reported online in BMJ Open, wrote that although investigators in an American Cancer Society study done 30 years ago showed that both cigarette smoking and sleep drugs were associated with higher than average rates of death, the link to the sleep drugs was discounted. That was due to the fact that the research was not designed to look at the effects of those medications. Regarding the current study, Kripke and his colleagues wrote that "Rough order-of-magnitude estimates ... suggest that in 2010, hypnotics may have been associated with 320,000 to 507,000 excess deaths in the U.S. alone. From this nonrandomized study, we cannot be certain what portion of the mortality associated with hypnotics may have been attributable to these drugs, but the consistency of our estimates across a spectrum of health and disease suggests that the mortality effect of hypnotics was substantial."