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Author Topic: Reports show 50% increased risk of dementia among benzo users- scared!  (Read 273 times)

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Offline yahoo2000

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I read a study recently that shows that benzo users have up to 50% risk of dementia. My biggest fear is dying an early death I am 32 and xanax is the only thing that works for me. It helps me thrive in so many ways (family, work, social, anxiety). But from what I get from these studies is that they mainly test ppl aged 65 years or older, so which is no surprise that dementia is a risk after 10-15 years or so.

Any safer alternatives for me? My grandfather is 87, healthy but has signs of dementia.

Here are the links:

media reports
http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/09/28/sleep-anxiety-drugs-linked-to-dementia/
http://www.medicationxpert.com/xanax-and-valium-boost-dementia-risk-by-50-percent

actual study
http://www.bmj.com/content/345/bmj.e6231
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Offline Never-Quit

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I give very little weight to these "studies"  ::) - when you "Google" anything you will find 1,000 studies that Benzodiazepines are terrible, and another 1,000 studies saying there is some association but not a direct connection, especially among older people.

I looked at one of the links - I quickly noticed the key phrase - "Researchers caution that the study only found an association between the drugs and dementia, and not a direct cause-and-effect link."  Which to me, basically negates the so called study.

Ian (Insights) at our forum- can give you much better documented studies and information regarding this and other studies.

You can send one of our members  (Insights)  a PM - he has excellent knowledge in this area  :yes:


My father is 86 years old, he was switched from Valium to Xanax - his doctor felt that a long-lasting benzo, was not suitable for an elderly man who is driving around town  B-;.  By the way my biological mother who is now 79 - has full Dementia, and Alzheimer and is in a terrible state where she will soon die, since she is in a virtual coma.  So, I also understand the concerns of those who have elderly parents. :(


Benzodiazepines have been used for over 50 years, IMO - with an excellent safety record - but there is always controversy.

For example here is another study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/15762814/

The effects of benzodiazepines on cognition.

Authors
Stewart SA.
Journal
J Clin Psychiatry. 2005;66 Suppl 2:9-13.

Affiliation
Abstract
Initially thought to be virtually free of negative effects, benzodiazepines are now known to carry risks of dependence, withdrawal, and negative side effects. Among the most controversial of these side effects are cognitive effects. Long-term treatment with benzodiazepines has been described as causing impairment in several cognitive domains, such as visuospatial ability, speed of processing, and verbal learning. Conversely, long-term benzodiazepine use has also been described as causing no chronic cognitive impairment, with any cognitive dysfunction in patients ascribed to sedation or inattention or considered temporary and associated with peak plasma levels. Complicating the issue are whether anxiety disorders themselves are associated with cognitive deficits and the extent to which patients are aware of their own cognitive problems. In an attempt to settle this debate, meta-analyses of peer-reviewed studies were conducted and found that cognitive dysfunction did in fact occur in patients treated long term with benzodiazepines, and although cognitive dysfunction improved after benzodiazepines were withdrawn, patients did not return to levels of functioning that matched benzodiazepine-free controls. Neuroimaging studies have found transient changes in the brain after benzodiazepine administration but no brain abnormalities in patients treated long term with benzodiazepines. Such findings suggest that patients should be advised of potential cognitive effects when treated long term with benzodiazepines, although they should also be informed that the impact of such effects may be insignificant in the daily functioning of most patients.

PMID 15762814 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]



So what can I do... If there is a possibility of long-term cognitive side-effects, which to my knowledge we do not have conclusive evidence, - I personally use Omega-3 supplementation which reportedly helps protect the brain from Dementia, and other mental illness.

Anyways, IMO:  I would not worry until we have Conclusive Evidence - at this time - the preponderance of evidence points to the safety and benefits outweigh any side effects for long-term users.  (I have used valium for over 20 years...)

My two cents  :twocents: :twocents:




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Offline yahoo2000

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thanks for quick and though response. I just find it odd that they would test on older patients rather than younger patients under 50 or so.

After reading that I thought there could be possibility on early onset Alzheimer, but I understand that it's extremely rare and runs in 1st degree families with strong history.
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Online insights

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I read a study recently that shows that benzo users have up to 50% risk of dementia.

Hmmm. As the study authors themselves state, there have been many studies on this issue, some finding an increased risk of dementia in those taking benzodiazepines, others showing these meds protect against it, which suggests that these studies are telling us more about the study methodologies than benzodiazepines.

Anxiety/stress is also a dementia risk factor, so these studies may be reflecting this, with benzodiazepines being merely the marker for the real culprit.

PS: The study authors claim their methodology filters out the influence from stress, but I'm not so sure.

Ian
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NOTE: I'm not a doctor, and particularly not yours, so there may be factors I'm unaware of. Therefore all advice is of a general nature and you should consult your doctor before following any of it, especially before changing med doses.

Offline yahoo2000

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I looked into more and found this:

Research paper does not show causal link between benzodiazepine use and diagnosis of dementia
http://www.bmj.com/content/345/bmj.e7984?ijkey=2d290d5aa7c11e85875d6266ed6cf06ec6d4c387&keytype2=tf_ipsecsha

http://www.bmj.com/content/345/bmj.e7993
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Online insights

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I looked into more and found this:

Research paper does not show causal link between benzodiazepine use and diagnosis of dementia
http://www.bmj.com/content/345/bmj.e7984?ijkey=2d290d5aa7c11e85875d6266ed6cf06ec6d4c387&keytype2=tf_ipsecsha

http://www.bmj.com/content/345/bmj.e7993

I think this debate will continue for a long time yet and I can't predict which side will win, if indeed there is ever a winner. My gut instinct is that benzodiazepines are something which almost all life is constantly exposed to as they are found in all foods, so the brain should be able to cope with them. Given that anxiety/depression/stress is a known dementia risk factor it may all be a moot point anyway.

Ian
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NOTE: I'm not a doctor, and particularly not yours, so there may be factors I'm unaware of. Therefore all advice is of a general nature and you should consult your doctor before following any of it, especially before changing med doses.

Offline Snoopy10

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Hi Yahoo2000, I didn't read the report but my only advice would be to throw it in the computer's garbage can.  We, as anxious people, worry about every thing!  The last thing we need to worry about is that our meds will kill us. Unmanaged anxiety symptoms are bad for your health too and can manifest themselves in all sorts of physical ways (gastrointestinal issues, dental problems, headaches) - look at the meds as "six of one, half dozen of the other".  Either we take the meds and enjoy our existence on this planet or we don't take the meds and suffer through it and maybe die right on schedule anyway.

I will tell you one thing, you cannot prevent your own demise. My Dad excercised, ate well, didn't drink or smoke anything. He died at 76 due to complications from hydrocephalus.  My Mom got a rare form of ovarian cancer and died at 68. Again, the doctor said "just bad luck".  My grand mom (mom's mom) turns 93 today and she drank up a storm, ate pastries for breakfast, lunch and dinner and lived with a smoker. 

I used to be terrified of dying. Then I watched my parents die and I realized there is no point in being afraid.  We are lucky for all the time we have on this earth. I'm not religious either. Just happy to get this opportunity to be a human on the planet.

I know, easier said than done. But the moral of the story is, I believe in taking the drugs that allow us to enjoy our existence on this planet.  That sounded weird (but you know what drugs I mean, not "drugs" in general). 
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Offline joe2014

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Gettimg back to something en Ian said about the link between anxiety and dementia. My doctor who has been on Prozac 14 years told me that is mother was also on SSRI. He said in her late 80's she decided to take herself off the medication and after that came the onset of dementia. Don't know if it's a connection or coincidence but it is interesting.
Joe
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Offline e77

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Well said Snoopy10!
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Offline yahoo2000

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Agreed thanks snoop. I willl continue to keep taking xanax since it's the only thing that works.
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Online insights

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My doctor who has been on Prozac 14 years told me that is mother was also on SSRI. He said in her late 80's she decided to take herself off the medication and after that came the onset of dementia. Don't know if it's a connection or coincidence but it is interesting.

There are a few small studies which hint that antidepressants may protect against dementia, as do some studies of aspirin, perhaps for the same reason, they 'thin' the blood which increases its flow in the brain. However, the best ways of avoiding dementia is pick your parents well or to die early. Live long enough and you're almost certain to develop it, how long seems to depend as much on your genes as lifestyle factors.

Ian
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NOTE: I'm not a doctor, and particularly not yours, so there may be factors I'm unaware of. Therefore all advice is of a general nature and you should consult your doctor before following any of it, especially before changing med doses.

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