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Sleeping Pills Linked to Almost Fourfold Increase in Death Risk

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout' started by TheGreat, Feb 27, 2012.

  1. TheGreat

    TheGreat Member

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    http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Sleep/...sed-death-risk/story?id=15803687#.T0wXEXnjPp0

    By LARA SALAHI (@larasalahiabc)
    Feb. 27, 2012

    Sleeping pills prescribed by your physician are supposed to ward off the myriad health problems that come with lack of sleep.

    But adults who take sleeping pills in even small numbers over their lifetimes may be nearly four times more likely to die earlier compared to those who are not prescribed sleeping pills, according to new findings published Monday in the British Medical Journal. And those prescribed sleeping pills may also be more likely to be diagnosed with cancer, the study found.

    Researchers looked at electronic medical records of nearly 35,000 patients, fewer than half of whom took such FDA-approved sleep medications as Ambien, Restoril, Lunesta, and Sonata. They found that even those who look fewer than 18 sleeping pills a year were at greater risk of death, compared to those who were not prescribed sleeping aids.

    An estimated 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from insomnia and other sleep disorders, which can keep them from functioning normally during the day. Untreated sleep disorders can lead to conditions like obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

    Such consequences from sleep disorders leave many doctors asking whether the findings from this study really suggest that sleeping pills are to blame, or whether those who take sleeping pills are at higher risk because of health conditions that potentially brought on the sleeping problems.

    The study did not say why the patients were prescribed the sleeping medications, whether the patients were evaluated by a sleep specialist, or whether they were also undergoing other types of treatment for any underlying health conditions -- all important factors when weighing an increased risk of death, said Dr. Steven Scharf, professor of medicine at the University of Maryland in Baltimore.

    "Most chronic conditions, including cancer, are associated with insomnia and mortality," said Scharf. "Who knows what the cause here was?"

    Six to 10 percent of Americans were prescribed sleeping pills in 2010, according to the study.

    Sleep disorders can also be considered symptoms of underlying mental and physical conditions.

    In fact, those in the study who were prescribed sleeping medications had higher rates of heart disease, diabetes and other conditions which may contribute to sleeplessness.

    "I think the underlying conditions which may require sedative-hypnotics are the culprits, not the medicines themselves," said Dr. Scott Nelson, a family practice physician at Cleveland Family Medicine.

    Many experts said these findings should not prompt patients to stop taking their medications.

    "I think sleeping pills are helpful when there are short term stressors," said Dr. Richard Colgan, associate professor in the department of family and community medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

    Sleeping pills can be helpful for those who work unusual shifts, and for those who travel across time zones, said Colgan.

    But the medications are not without side effects -- including drowsiness, impaired judgment, depression and heart problems. Misuse can be fatal. And, according to Dr. Lee Green, a professor in the department of family medicine at the University of Michigan, the risks outweigh the benefits.

    Medication to treat sleeplessness is not as important as treating the underlying condition, he said.

    "Sedation worsens sleep apnea, for example, and we know sleep apnea is associated with risk of death," said Green. "We tend to think that a sleeping pill once in a while is harmless, but there's no such thing as a medication free of risk."
     
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  2. DonnyMost

    DonnyMost not wrong
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    I am not shocked to hear this.

    There's some incredibly damning evidence coming out about prescription meds that basically are killing us instead of helping us in the long term.
     
  3. Chamillionaire

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    Xanax? Batman? Dubstep step listening pill poppin tracymacaddidas?
     
  4. emjohn

    emjohn Contributing Member

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    Key quote, IMO.
     
  5. Rocket River

    Rocket River Member

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    Frightening

    Better living through chemisty is simply not working
    You get it to fix one thing . . but it breaks another

    Rocket River
     
  6. xcrunner51

    xcrunner51 Contributing Member

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    Wow. I'm shocked at all the highly reactionary views in this thread. Medicinal science has come a long way from the days of alchemy and countless breakthroughs are left to be made in the field.

    Medicine is no different than anything else, it needs to be done in moderation; i.e. under strict physician supervision. But to throw every prescription medication under the bus because some have side effects is preposterous. Way to take huge medical breakthroughs like antibiotics and pain relievers for granted.
     
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  7. heypartner

    heypartner Contributing Member

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    lol, yeah. great point.

    What's next: "Taking Statins for very high cholesterol makes you 10 times more likely to die earlier."
     
  8. DonnyMost

    DonnyMost not wrong
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    No one is throwing "every prescription medication under the bus". No one said anything close to that, actually. Your response was the only thing "reactionary", in addition to being really presumptive.

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  9. Supermac34

    Supermac34 President, Von Wafer Fan Club

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    Correlation does not equal causation.
     
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  10. dharocks

    dharocks Contributing Member

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  11. RMGEEGEE

    RMGEEGEE Contributing Member

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    Bingo.
     
  12. LosPollosHermanos

    LosPollosHermanos Houston only fan
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    everybody knows this.... I actually thought it was higher
     
  13. Deckard

    Deckard Blade Runner
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    No kidding, and makes as much sense. Hell, I would be dead now were it not for statins, and if I'm having a hard time sleeping, this "study" isn't going to stop me from taking an Ambien. I think context is something that should be more valued than it obviously is.
     
  14. Yonkers

    Yonkers Contributing Member

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    It's helping them sleep longer than they planned is all.
     
  15. dylan

    dylan Contributing Member

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    Really, you don't find Rocket River doing his usual anti-science screed and saying
    "Frightening

    Better living through chemisty is simply not working
    You get it to fix one thing . . but it breaks another"

    counts? Given his posting history I'd say that was exactly what RR was going for. Simply shocking that he (and many others) do not understand that correlation does not equal causation.
     
  16. bigtexxx

    bigtexxx Contributing Member

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    any risk with Tylenol PM?

    sometimes I'll pop those to sleep better
     
  17. Harrisment

    Harrisment Member

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    Tylenol (APAP) can be hard on your liver if used too often or with alcohol. You're much better off taking something like Unisom, which contains the sleep aid without the nasty APAP.
     
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  18. bigtexxx

    bigtexxx Contributing Member

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    preesh

    was unaware
     
  19. KingCheetah

    KingCheetah Contributing Member

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    Tylenol PM and most over the counter sleep aids contain diphenhydramine, which is benadyrl -- so no it won't hurt you.
     
  20. Deckard

    Deckard Blade Runner
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    You would be better off taking a sleep med with Advil, if a pain med is also needed. Vicoprophen, which is Ibuprofen (Advil) with hydrocodone, for example, is better than taking Vicodin for pain, IMO, as it doesn't have acetaminophen (Tylenol) in it, with all the attendant side effects. It also does a much better job, IMO, of reducing inflammation. Just an FYI.
     

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