People who take sleeping pills could be at a greater risk of death if they are obese, according to a new study.
Researchers found that obesity can nearly double the risk of mortality in those who are prescribed 18 or fewer pills during the space of a year.
This risk is particularly heightened in men and young adults, it was revealed at the American Heart Association meeting.
Dr Robert Langer, family physician and epidemiologist with the Jackson Hole Centre for Preventive Medicine, stated: "The associations between sleeping pills and increased mortality were present, and relatively stronger, even in people aged 18 to 54."
One extra death per year among every 100 people who take sleeping pills is said to be attributable to obesity.
It is hypothesised that the vulnerability of obese people to death is a result of sleep apnoea, which often occurs in those who are overweight.
Patients with the condition take more and longer pauses in breathing when they are asleep - symptoms which are increased in those who take sleeping pills.
The findings show the importance of a healthy diet and exercise to protect against the risks associated with medications.
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