Here’s important information for Zoomers who are taking common medications like Xanax and valium. A French study finds this class of psychiatric medications may increase the risk of dementia for people over 65.

The study showed that older people on drugs known as benzodiazepines were 50 per cent more likely to develop dementia over a 15-year period, compared with those who did not take the drugs.

These are widely prescribed medications, used to treat symptoms of anxiety and sleep disorders. In Canada 20 per cent of people 65-plus are prescribed these drugs in the form of valium and Xanax.

The study findings held true even when taking into account other factors that may affect dementia risk, such as age, gender, diabetes and early signs of dementia.

Researchers caution that the study only found an association between the drugs and dementia, and not a direct cause-and-effect link.

However, the findings in the British Medical Journal echo those of several earlier studies. These medications have also been tied to other serious problems in older adults, like falls.

The researchers say whenever possible, use of the drugs should be limited to just a few weeks. Currently, despite evidence that the drugs work only over short periods, many people take them for years.

Photo ©iStockphoto.com/ Henrik Jonsson

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Libby ZnaimerAbout The Zoomer Report
Libby Znaimer, a prominent Canadian journalist specializing in business, politics, and lifestyle issues, is producer and host of The Zoomer Report, a special feature on topics of interest to baby boomers and the 50+. It covers everything from health and wealth to leisure and volunteerism, from the special vantage point of the generation that has changed society in its wake.

Ms. Znaimer is also Vice-President of News and Information for Classical 96.3FM and AM740. Her first book, “In Cancerland – Living Well Is The Best Revenge” – was published in October 2007 by Key Porter.


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