Higher Heart Disease & Cancer Risks Posed By Sleeping Pill Use
More and more persons request medication for sleep from their doctors. Statistics show, in fact, that between the years 2006 to 2010, sleeping pills, classified as hypnotics, grew by 23 percent among pharmaceuticals sold, accounting for more than $2 million in sales per year. But longitudinal research conducted by researchers Scripps Clinic Sleep Center in San Diego show that sleeping pill use correlates positively with the two big ones: cancer and heart disease.
But hypnotics also correlate with other diseases, as you can see in the table below:
Comorbid diagnoses of non-users and users of hypnotics
(percentages of total group)
|Comorbidity||Non-users||Any hypnotic users||Zolpidem||Temazepam|
|Coronary heart disease***||9.4||14.5||14.1||15.8|
|Chronic kidney disease***||0.9||1.7||1.5||1.9|
|Cardiovascular disease, all***||14.1||21.4||21.1||22.3|
|Reflux and peptic disease***||15.0||27.9||26.9||26.3|
|Peripheral vascular disease***||2.1||3.9||4.0||3.7|
Table 2: Hypnotics' association with mortality or cancer: a matched cohort study, BMJ Open, February 27, 2012
Researchers studied the health records of more than 10,500 patients on sleeping pills for an average of 2.5 years between 2002 and 2006. On the control side were the records of more than 23,000 participants during the same period. All participants were matched based on similar ages, gender, and health.The electronic medical records had been in place for more than a decade.
Results showed that sleeping pill users were more likely to get cancer, heart disease, and other major illnesses that lead to early deaths. Rates of new cancers, for example, were 35 percent higher among patients who were prescribed at least 132 hypnotic doses a year as compared with those who did not take the drugs. And even among persons who took only 1 to 18 sleeping pills a year, their risk of death was 3.6 percent higher than those who took no pills.
The study looked at 8 of the most commonly used hypnotics, the two most commonly prescribed medications among the participants were zolpidem (known by the brand name Ambien) and temazepam (also known as Restoril).
"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 author Daniel F. Kripke, M.D., of the Viterbi Family Sleep Center in San Diego.
In case you are wondering about the motives of the researchers, they were certainly not sponsored by a pharmaceutical company, but by Scripps Research and private donations. Nevertheless, they admit that they hoped the associations did not exist....
"We tried every practical strategy to make these associations go away, thinking that they could be due to use by people with more health problems, but no matter what we did the associations with higher mortality held," said co-author Robert D. Langer, M.D., M.P.H., of the Jackson Hole Center for Preventive Medicine in Jackson, Wyoming.
Well, that should be enough to keep you awake tonight.