NY Times – Benzodiazepines, such as Ativan, Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin, are widely used for insomnia and anxiety, but a recent study shows that benzos and other drugs in the same class may be linked to higher rates of subsequent Alzheimer’s disease for older people who take the drugs.
The association strengthens with greater exposure to the drugs. “The more cumulative days of use, the higher the risk of later being diagnosed with dementia,” says one pharmacoepidemiologist working on the study, which did control for a variety of factors including conditions such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
Results of the study show that using benzodiazepines can cause a 51% increase in the odds of developing Alzheimer’s, and longer-acting forms of the drug, like Valium, have a stronger link to Alzheimer’s than Ativan or Xanax, which leave the body quickly.
Despite the results of the study, the benefits of taking benzodiazepines, such as being able to sleep, might be worth the risk to some people, but it is also important to take into account the possibility of Alzheimer’s when choosing.