Anti-Anxiety Drugs and Risk of Dementia
According to a new study in France, seniors who take certain drugs to treat anxiety and/or insomnia could be more likely to develop dementia than those who do not.
Details of the French Study
The French study compared the risk of dementia in two groups of French seniors:
- 95 seniors who had recently used of any of benzodiazepines (or similar drugs)
- 968 seniors who did not take benzodiazepines
Drugs used by seniors in this study:
- Ambien, Halcion, Klonopin, Restoril, Valium, and Xanax.
The Study’s Findings
In the course of 15 years, doctors diagnosed 253 cases of dementia.
- Mean age of enrollment: 78 years old
- 30 out of 95 seniors (32%) of recent users (of benzodiazepines or similar drugs) developed memory loss and difficulty thinking.
- 223 out of 968 (23%) of seniors (who had not taken them) developed the above symptoms.
- After accounting for other things known to affect brain function, like age, living alone, depression, high blood pressure, and diabetes, researchers found that seniors who took benzodiazepines were about 60% more likely than those who didn’t develop dementia.
Anti-anxiety and/or sleeping medications are intended for temporary use, but they can be habit-forming, and many older adults take them continuously for years. Although the study did not reach a statistical significance, researchers suggest possible correlations between benzodiazepine use and dementia.
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