A drug used to treat anxiety and insomnia could put people over the age of 65 at a significant risk of dementia.
Researchers from France claim that older adults taking benzodiazepine are approximately 50 per cent more likely to develop dementia with 15 years, compared to those who have never taken the medication.
Although not in widespread use in the UK, benzodiazepine is prescribed regularly in France, Canada, Spain and Australia.
It is also often used for years by patients, despite guidelines recommending this course of treatment for only a few weeks.
During the study, it was observed that out of 90 patients using benzodiazepine, 30 developed confirmed cases of dementia.
These figures were adjusted for common risk factors, including age, gender, educational level, marital status, wine consumption, diabetes, high blood pressure, cognitive decline and depressive symptoms.
Clinicians may now want to exercise caution when prescribing benzodiazepine in the future, according to the study authors.
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