Do sleeping tablets cause cancer?
7th June 2019
Sleeping pills refer to both prescription and over-the-counter medications that are used to help those people who find it difficult to fall asleep or to stay asleep on their own. Sleeping pills are classified as hypnotics that promote sleep or extend a person’s sleep. They are also referred to as sedatives - with calming effects - that also have the ability to cause drowsiness.
The most commonly prescribed hypnotics or sleeping pills belong to the classes of drugs known as benzodiazepines or benzodiazepine receptor agonists. Sleeping pills have the potentials for serious side effects when overused or abused.
The millions of people who use sleeping pills to help them fall asleep at night have a new reason to keep them awake. Their sleeping pills may kill them. It was found out that sleeping pills may be as dangerous as cigarettes.
A study published in the British Medical Journal Open found that people who are taking sleeping pills twice a month are four times more likely to die in the next two and a half years than people who did not take sleeping pills at all. People taking high doses of benzodiazepine drugs were six times more likely to die. Benzodiazepine drugs were dispensed 2.8 million times in England alone in 2010. People taking more than 132 pills a year suffered a 35% increase in cancer. Also, heavy users of the new sleeping drugs that are supposed to be less addictive were nearly six times more likely to die in the near future.
Zopiclone, one of the Z-drugs, was prescribed 5.3 million times in England in 2010. The news has been causing panic on many people. The study, although published by the BMJ, was carried out by American scientists based on the mortality rates in Pennsylvania. In 2010, hypnotics have been associated with 320,000 to 307,000 deaths in the US alone. The implication of the study is that there are unidentified killers lurking in the bathroom cabinets of American and British homes.
Zopiclone is a nonbenzodiazepine hypnotic agent that is used in treating insomnia. It is a type of sleeping pill that is usually used in treating bad bouts of insomnia. Zopiclone allows you to fall asleep quickly and helps in preventing you from waking up during the night. The study was not specific to Zopiclone, and is inclusive to other sleeping medications such as Zolpidem.
Zopiclone is marketed as a tablet. It is also available in liquid form for people who find it difficult to swallow tablets. The liquid type needs to be ordered specially by a doctor.
Zopiclone is to be taken by mouth before bedtime as directed by your physician. It is usually taken for short periods of not more than 4 weeks. The reason for the short duration of use is because the body easily gets used to the medicine. After the fourth week, Zopiclone is not likely to have the same effect. It can also cause dependence.
Drinking alcohol with zopiclone is not encouraged. Consuming the two together can put a person into a deep sleep and he may find it difficult to wake up. It can be taken only by adults who are over the age of 18. It is not suitable for some people so it is important to consult first with your doctor before taking this medicine.
The usual recommended dose of Zopiclone is to take the 7.5 mg tablet once a day before bedtime. A lower dose, 3.75 mg, is available for the use of the elderly.
Take Zopiclone just before bedtime. Do not take the medicine if you wake up in the middle of your sleep at night. The tablet should be swallowed whole with a glass of water. It should not be crushed or chewed. You may take Zopiclone with or without a meal. Zopiclone should not be taken on a daily basis. Take it only when you feel you really need it.
Zopiclone may affect your concentration and your ability to drive. Its effects may last until the following day. Do not drive or operate machinery unless you are sure how the medication affects your concentration and your abilities.
Studies have shown that drivers who have taken Zopiclone the previous night have a reduced ability to concentrate or focus, thus affecting their ability to drive. The same is true with people who have taken the medicine and will be operating machinery the following day.
Zopiclone remains in the user’s system for as long as 11 hours after taking it. It is recommended that a 12-hour wait will ensure that a user of the medicine can perform functions that require concentration or focus.
Individuals with certain medical conditions such as breathing problems, liver impairment, or depression should discuss first with their doctor before starting to use Zopiclone. Your doctor could give you other options to help you fall asleep other than taking the pills.