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Obesity Raises Death Risk Tied To Sleeping Pills
Date:3/16/2012

bmj.com/content/2/1/e000850.full">http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/2/1/e000850.full)

The research was the first to show that eight of the most commonly used hypnotic drugs were associated with increased hazards of mortality and cancer, including the popularly prescribed medications zolpidem (known by the brand name Ambien) and temazepam (also known as Restoril), Dr. Kripke said.

Those drugs had been thought to be safer than older hypnotics because of their shorter duration of action but were found to have associations with excess deaths no different from the older drugs they have largely replaced.

In order to eliminate the possibility that other factors led to the results, study participants who were prescribed sleeping pills were matched with control patients of similar ages, gender and health who did not receive hypnotics.

The newest findings were delivered by Dr. Langer during an oral session at the American Heart Association conference that focused on drug safety.

For obese patients in the study who had an average body mass index of 38.8, the risk of death was 8.1 times higher on average among those who were prescribed the smallest number of pills (18 or fewer annually) when compared with similar study participants who did not take the medications. The mortality rate was 9.3 times higher on average among obese patients receiving the largest number of pills (132 or more annually).

Death was 4.6 times more likely on average among all patients who received any amount of sleeping pills.

The study cast a shadow over a growing segment of the pharmaceutical industry that expanded by 23 percent in the United States from 2006 to 2010 and generated about $2 billion in annual sales.

Using data stored in an electronic medical record that has been in place for more than a decade, the researchers obtained information on almost 40,000 patients cared for by a large integrated health system in the northeastern United St
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SOURCE Scripps Health
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