Insomnia, anxiety drugs -- downers -- could boost dementia risk

September 27, 2012

Enzodiazepines, commonly known as downers, include a whole family of medications such as valium and Xanax. A new study in the British Medical Journal suggests these drugs could put the elderly at greater risk of life-altering side effects.

The report adds to a growing body of evidence showing people who begin taking the drugs after age 65 are nearly 50 percent more likely to develop dementia. That compares with people who don't use them.

But the medications are very popular with seniors because they're effective in treating sleep problems and anxiety.

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