Volume 5, Issue 37 September 13, 2012
When sleep is more deadly
than smoking
Sleep is good for you right? But what if you have insomnia and the only way you can get enough sleep is to take sleeping pills? That would certainly be a healthier choice than missing out on your sleep time, right? It makes sense. But a new study is confirming what other studies have hinted at – the regular use of sleeping pills is one of the most dangerous things you can do. More risky than smoking or not wearing your seat belt.

The authors of the study looked at 12,465 men and women between the ages of 37-69. All of these people had one thing in common. They took sleeping pills. Among the group were healthy people and patients with heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, lung disease, asthma, dementia, obesity, and kidney disease. The authors then established a second group of patients living in the same area who had the same medical conditions, lifestyle habits, age, and sex. The only thing different between the two groups was that the patients in the second group did not take sleeping pills. The researchers followed both groups for two to four years. What they found was shocking.

Those taking any kind of sleeping medication had on average a 360% greater chance of dying from any cause! This was true even if they took the pills less than 18 times a year.

Now this fact alone does not necessarily prove that the sleeping pills were responsible for the increased deaths. It is possible that people at a higher risk of dying have more insomnia than those who don’t. But other data tends to support the idea that the sleeping pills actually caused the deaths. The researchers found that the death rate increased across the board as the number of sleeping pills increased. There was a direct correlation.

Those who took from 18 to 132 sleeping pills per year had an increased death rate of 443%. And those who took more than 132 pills had a death rate increase of 532%.

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The authors also looked at whether or not the risk of dying from cancer was greater as the number of pills went up. Once again the results are sobering. There was no increased risk of cancer death in those taking less than 18 pills per year. But those taking between 18-132 pills had a 20% increased risk. And those taking more than 132 pills had a 35% increased risk.

Were there any differences between the types of sleeping pills they took? Yes. The authors specifically looked at the two most common sleeping pills used today, zolpidem (Ambien) and temazepam (Restoril).

Those taking 800 mg or more of zolpidem per year had a 569% increased chance of dying! The average dose of zolpidem is about 5-10 mg. That means that you have to take the pills only once a week to have this incredible increase in risk. I know many patients who take zolpidem every day of their lives.

But as bad as zolpidem is, it looks like temazepam is even worse. Those who took more than 1,640 mg per year had the highest risk of dying of all – an increase of 656%. Since the usual dose of temazepam is between 15-30 mg, that amounts to using these pills once every 4-8 days. Many patients use them every day. And the risk of dying from cancer is the highest with temazepam. It fully doubles your risk.

The study results also showed that people on sleeping pills were more likely to have reflux, GERD, and heartburn as well as peptic ulcers. And here’s an amazing fact. In this study, those who took sleeping pills were more likely to be diagnosed with lymphomas, lung, colon, and prostate cancers than those who didn’t take them and smoked instead. Is it safer to smoke than to take sleeping pills? It appears so.

Somewhere between 6-10% of the entire American adult population takes sleeping pills. The authors estimate that our sleeping pill habit may cause between 320,000 to 507,000 extra deaths in the US every year. Did you read that? These drugs alone are causing up to half a million deaths annually!

I believe this study shows us that there is a very substantial risk in taking sleeping pills on any kind of a regular basis. And I hope that any of you now hooked on them will work with your doctor to get off. The risks are too great. And there are so many good alternatives. One of the best is Advanced Sleep Formula. I’ll have more on this formula and other alternatives that can help you sleep like a baby without any side effects in the near future.

Finding your Real Cures,
Frank Shallenberger, MD

Kripke DF, Langer RD, Kline LE. Hypnotics' association with mortality or cancer: a matched cohort study. BMJ Open. 2012 Feb 27;2(1):e000850. Print 2012.

Sleeping pills increase risk of death, study suggests by Sarah Boseley; http://www.guardian.co.uk. Monday 27 February 2012 18.30 EST.

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