How should people who take sleeping pills respond to a recent study by Scripps Clinic physicians that found a link between the medications and early death and cancer?
New York Times writer Roni Caryn Rabin tackled that question in a March 12 article — New Worries About Sleeping Pills — that was published on the newspaper’s Well health blog.
“The findings underscore concern about the exploding use of sleeping pills,” according to the article. “Experts say that many patients, especially the elderly, should exercise more caution when using sleep medications, including the non-benzodiazepine hypnotics so popular today, like zolpidem (brand name Ambien), eszopiclone (Lunesta) and zaleplon (Sonata).”
The study, which was published in February by the medical journal BMJ Open and co-authored by Daniel Kripke, MD, found that people who were prescribed sleeping pills were 4.6 times more likely to die, on average, than those who didn’t receive the drugs. Those who were given the medications on a regular basis had a 35-percent higher rate of new cancers.