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Anxiety drugs increase death risk

Experts have warned that people using anxiety or insomnia drugs could be increasing their risk of death by 36%.

Those using the drugs just once in the month before being surveyed raised their risk of dying from any cause, the data from 14,000 people revealed.

Factors which could also have an impact on health, including smoking, drinking, lack of exercise and depression were considered when looking at the review results.

The study created from Canada's National Population Health Survey was led by Genevieve Belleville from Laval University's School of Psychology in Canada.

The data includes information on people aged 18 to 102, surveyed every two years between 1994 and 2007.

One suggested reason for the effect is that sleeping pills and anti-anxiety drugs affect people's response times, alertness, and co-ordination.

This may make them more prone to falls and other accidents.

Another theory is that they interfere with the breathing system and affect any breathing problems as the person sleeps.

The medicines also work on the central nervous system, possibly increasing the risk of suicide.

Dr Belleville said people should consider a type of talking therapy called cognitive behavioural therapy instead.

The study was published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry.

Copyright © Press Association 2010

Canadian Journal of Psychiatry