In a study published at the online version of the British Medical Journal, investigators from the University of Bordeaux in France reported a greater risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease in elderly people who took popular anxiety drugs including alprazolam (Xanax), lorazepam (Ativan), and diazepam (Valium).
Increased risk was also associated with sleep-inducing medicines such as clonazepam (Klonopin), temazepam (Restoril) and triazolam (Halcion).
For the study, the researchers examined the histories of 1,796 elderly volunteers with Alzheimer’s dementia and compared them to 7,184 similar volunteers without dementia. Those who took the medicines for three or more months were 50 percent more likely to develop dementia within five years.
This study did not prove that taking those medicines causes Alzheimer’s disease because anxiety and insomnia can also be early symptoms of impending Alzheimer’s, occurring long before cognitive problems become obvious.
It’s possible that the volunteers who took the medicines and developed Alzheimer’s were already in the earliest stages of the disease.
To minimize the use of such drugs, people experiencing anxiety and insomnia should try other strategies, such as meditation, physical exercise, avoiding caffeine, and cognitive behavioral therapy.
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