London: A medicine widely used by people over-65s to combat anxiety and insomnia increases the risk of dementia by 50 per cent within 15 years, researchers have found. Benzodiazepines are widely used in many countries, and it is prescribed to 30 percent of pensioners in France, a daily reported.

The research team at the University of Bordeaux in France have warned "indiscriminate widespread use" of benzodiazepines should stop.

The research studied 1,063 people with an average age of 78, over 20 years. They had never taken the drug before and were all free from dementia.

The chance of dementia developing in those who took the drugs was 4.8 per 100 "person years", compared with 3.2 for those who had not taken benzodiazepines.

The research study concluded: "Uncontrolled chronic use of benzodiazepines in elderly people should be cautioned against." The findings are published in the British Medical Journal.


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