Sleeping pills commonly prescribed in Britain are linked to a more-than fourfold risk of premature death, according to an American study published in the journal BMJ Open.
These medications were also associated at higher doses with a 35-percent increased risk of cancer as compared with non-users, but the reason for this is unclear.
Doctors led by Daniel Kripke of the Scripps Clinic Viterbi Family Sleep Center in La Jolla, California, looked at the medical records of more than 10,500 adults living in Pennsylvania who were taking prescribed sleeping aids.
These were compared against more than 23,600 counterparts, matched for age, health and background, who did not take these drugs.
The study ranged over two and a half years, and looked at widely-prescribed sleeping pills, includingbenzodiazepines, non-benzodiazepines, barbiturates and sedatives.
The overall number of deaths that occurred during this period was small in both groups, being less than a thousand in total.
But there was a striking difference in mortality, the researchers found.
Those who took between 18 and 132 doses of the pills per year were 4.6 times likelier to die than the “control” group.
Even those who took less than 18 annual doses were more than 3.5 times likelier to die.
“Rough order-of-magnitude estimates… suggest that in 2010, hypnotics (sleeping pills) may have been associated with 320,000 to 507,000 excess deaths in the USA alone,” says the study.
Details of how individuals died were not disclosed, and the authors stress that they have found a statistical link but not a cause.
But they sound the alarm, given the vast number of people who take these drugs.
“We estimate that approximately six to 10 percent of US adults used these drugs in 2010 and the percentages may be higher in parts of Europe,” they write.
The average age of the people in the study was 54. The researchers say they took into account factors that could skew the comparison between the two groups, such as whether an individual smoked or had a pre-existing health condition.
However, they were unable to take depression, anxiety and other emotional factors into account, as these diagnoses are kept secret under Pennsylvania law.
Previous research into sleeping pills has found a link with car accidents and serious falls, “night-eating syndromes” of bingeing on food, regurgitation in the oesophagus and peptic ulcer disease.
‘I have to leave for an emergency phone call’: Trump splits from his own press conference for a ‘big call’
President Donald Trump was late for his 6:00 PM press conference and literally left in the middle for an "emergency" phone call.
"I have to leave for an emergency phone call," Trump told reporters in the White House press briefing room. As he tried to leave one reporter peppered him with spot-on questions about this afternoon's decision by a grand jury to not charge any of the three Louisville police officers for the killing of Breonna Taylor.
Asked what the call was about, Trump replied, "I have a big call."
Wow. Trump says he has to take "an emergency phone call" and walks away while ignoring a reporter's shouted question about what his message is to people who are upset over Breonna Taylor's killing pic.twitter.com/EWsjJOGwsg
North Korea shot dead South Korean in its waters: Seoul
North Korean forces shot dead a South Korean fisheries official who disappeared off a patrol vessel and ended up in Pyongyang's waters, Seoul's defense ministry said Thursday, calling it an "outrageous act".
The 47-year-old man had been on board a vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong, the ministry said in a statement.
After analyzing intelligence, the South Korean military had "confirmed that the North fired at a South Korean national found in the northern seas and cremated his body", it said."We sternly warn North Korea that all responsibilities for this incident lie with it," it added.
‘Five-alarm fire’: MSNBC’s Morning Joe explains why Trump is rushing to smash democracy
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough sounded the alarm that President Donald Trump had no intention of giving up the White House.
The president has admitted that he wants to ram through a new Supreme Court justice to help decide the election in his favor, and the "Morning Joe" host was shocked -- yet not surprised -- that Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power.
"Some remarkable things that, actually, could be both shocking and not surprising at the same time considering that they come from Donald Trump," Scarborough said.
"For the first time in the history of this republic, you have a president of the United States, who will not commit to a peaceful transfer of power," he added. "At the same time he's asking Republicans to lie to their constituents and go back on what they said four years ago and ram through a Supreme Court justice. Why? Because he needs that Supreme Court justice to vote for him on any election disputes that he stirs up. That is pretty much a five-alarm fire."