Raised dementia risk with benzodiazepines

Among 1134 men from a small town in Wales enrolled in a cohort study during middle age, researchers conducted tests of cognitive function and recorded medication use over 22 years.

They found that among the 103 men (9.1%) who reported taking benzodiazepines regularly at some time, there was a threefold increased risk of dementia.

However, there was no dose-response relationship, with men exposed to benzodiazepines for ≤ 4 years showing a higher risk of dementia than those who took them for > 4 years.

Earlier use of benzodiazepines was more strongly associated with non-vascular dementia compared to vascular dementia.

Men who had ever taken benzodiazepines had a slightly worse performance on most cognitive function tests, the researchers said, concluding the study findings were “cause for concern”.

They called for more research to determine if the associations were specific for benzodiazepines or may be seen with