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Sleeping Pills Cause Cancer?
Old 03-02-2012, 09:58 AM   #1
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Sleeping Pills Cause Cancer?

Here is a link concerning this that came out recently. My local newspaper also had a different article on it yesterday. There is an association with it, but direct cause and effect have not been linked. It was defintely interesting reading. One quote mentioned taking sleeping pills was as likely to cause cancer as smoking. I hope they can implement more detailed research on subject as many people use them. I have tried a few times, but none of them worked so I never really used them.

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Old 03-02-2012, 02:00 PM   #2
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Doesn't sound very scientific to me. The findings (take sleeping pills and die) apply to all kinds of sleeping pills using different pathways to induce sleep. This isn't a controlled study of one formula.

Correlation is not causation. It is more probable that people with existing medical problems (associated with the higher death rates) are more likely to use sleeping pills, than that the use of sleeping pills led to the adverse outcomes.

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Old 03-02-2012, 03:17 PM   #3
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From my limited research, everything in the known universe is "known to the state of California to cause cancer and other serious health defects."
I thought growing old would take longer.
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Old 03-02-2012, 03:54 PM   #4
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And the next study will state that people who don't take sleeping pills are 500 times more likely to drive off a cliff, due to sleep deprivation.

I haven't believed in "scare theories" since they told us that saccharine in soft drinks could kill you - they forgot to mention you had to drink 1600 cans of soda a day.
Inside me is a skinny person crying to get out, but I can usually shut the b*tch up with cookies
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Old 03-02-2012, 04:41 PM   #5
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I've been taking 1/2 tab of Ambien occasionally for about 5-6 years. I also have been treated for skin cancer about 20 times. I guess I'm part of that stat, but I doubt that there is a link between the two.
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Old 03-02-2012, 05:13 PM   #6
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I see this study is spawning sensationalist headlines all over the internet. Of course, many of the news stories overlook the distinction between causation and correlation, and observational vs. clinical trials.

I dug into the original study since I occasionally take these drugs and would prefer not to be contributing to my early demise. Study is here: (Hypnotics' association with mortality or cancer: a matched cohort study -- Kripke et al. 2 (1) -- BMJ Open)

The doctor is quite a character. In his ebook (Chapter 1, Sleeping Pills Could Shorten Your Life - The Dark Side of Sleeping Pills, an eBook by Daniel F. Kripke, MD.) he outright states that "sleeping pills cause cancer in people", based on animal data and his interpretation of the clinical trials submitted to the FDA for regulatory approval. He suspects the drug co's and the FDA of a massive cover-up.

I can't rule that out, of course, but his review contains several flaws, IMO. First, it was based on a narrow segment of patients in rural Pennsylvania, with data drawn from an HMO's medical records: "The population is mostly of low socio-economic status, having less than high school education and less than one-third are insured under the Geisinger Health Plan."

Second, while he attempted to control for the effects of disease, health status, etc, "We were unable to control for depression, anxiety and other emotional factors because of Pennsylvania laws protecting the confidentiality of these diagnoses".

Third, this was an observational study only, not a controlled, clinical study: "Accordingly, we were unable to verify that the medications ordered were dispensed by a pharmacy, and, if dispensed, whether the patient ingested the prescribed hypnotic". Although he concludes that this would lead to an underestimation of the drugs' lethality.

He addresses these limitations, yet still concludes that these drugs "kill people". I can easily come up with other hypotheses to explain his results. For example, I can speculate that poor, uneducated patients in an economically depressed region may suffer from extreme stress, or subclinical depression. Maybe their overworked HMO docs prefer to write prescriptions and move on to the next patient, rather than screen for depression, or anxiety, or refer to an psychologist for further evaluation. Maybe the HMO doesn't even allow that. Or maybe other undiagnosed illnesses, or aches and pains brought on by a life of hard physical labor led to both insomnia and an early death. I don't know, but I'm not sure he does, either.

I'm not defending the meds -- they may very well be more dangerous than current thinking suggests -- but I'm not completely buying his conclusion, either.

As they say in medical research, further study is needed.
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Old 03-02-2012, 05:26 PM   #7
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This is interesting since it seems like the prescribing and use of Ambien has risen 1000% since it went generic and is available for ~$10/mo
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Old 03-03-2012, 09:04 AM   #8
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I am on 14 different doctor prescribed meds. A few of them have insomnia as side effects. I have been taking Ambien since it came out since about 2004. It works great. I am not addicted, I can stop whenever I want to!

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