Sleeping pills appear to be linked with a higher death risk, US doctors warn.
The US study, published in BMJ Open, compared more than 10,000 patients on tablets like temazepam with 23,000 similar patients not taking these drugs.
Death risk among users was about four times higher, although the absolute risk was still relatively low.
Experts say while the findings highlight a potential risk, proof of harm is still lacking.
Researchers say patients should not be alarmed nor stop their medication, but if they are concerned they should discuss this with their doctor or pharmacist.
The latest study looked at a wide range of sleeping pills, such as benzodiazepines (temazepam and diazepam), non-benzodiazepines (zolpidem, zopiclone and zaleplon), barbiturates and sedative antihistamines.
Sleeping pills appear to be linked with a higher death risk, US doctors warn
The investigators, from the Jackson Hole Centre for Preventive Medicine in Wyoming and the Scripps Clinic Viterbi Family Sleep Centre in California, found that people prescribed these pills were 4.6 times more likely to die during a 2.5-year period compared to those not on the drugs.
Overall, one in every 16 patients in the sleeping pill group died (638 out of 10,531 in total) compared to one in every 80 of the non-users (295 deaths out of 23,674 patients).
This increased risk was irrespective of other underlying health conditions, such as heart and lung diseases, and other factors like smoking and alcohol use, which the researchers say they did their best to rule out.
The researchers say it is not yet clear why people taking sleeping tablets may be at greater risk.
The drugs are sedating and this may make users more prone to falls and other accidents. The tablets can also alter a person’s breathing pattern as they sleep and they have been linked to increased suicide risk.
In this latest study, those taking the highest doses of sleeping tablets also appeared to be at greater risk of developing cancer.
The researchers say: “The meagre benefits of hypnotics, as critically reviewed by groups without financial interest, would not justify substantial risks.”
They say even short-term use may not be justifiable.
Zainab Bibi has been arrested in Karachi, Pakistan, on suspicion of murdering her husband, chopping his body to pieces and boiling it in a bid to get rid of the evidence.
Zainab Bibi, 42, from Karachi, allegedly told police she killed her husband Ahmad Abbas because he tried to sexually assault her 17-year-old daughter from another marriage.
The wife told authorities she sedated Ahmad Abbas by mixing sleeping pills in his tea and strangled him with rope before dismembering him.
Police said that the landlord found Zainab Bibi at the stove, cooking a korma with flesh from her husband’s arm and leg
Police discovered Zainab Bibi’s plot after neighbors complained about a bad smell coming from her home.
Zaheer Ahmed, her 22-year-old nephew, has also been arrested in connection with dismembering Ahmad Abbas’s body.
Pakistan’s ARY News spoke to Zainab Bibi from her cell at the Shah Faisal police station, where she said: “I killed my husband before he dared to touch my daughter.”
The alarm was raised by Zainab Bibi’s landlord, Behzad, who lives on the ground floor of the two-storey Green Town house.
The landlord was so upset by the bad cooking smells coming from upstairs that he went up to complain.
Police said that the landlord found Zainab Bibi at the stove, cooking a korma with flesh from her husband’s arm and leg – because she believed it was the only way to practically dispose of his body.
Pakistani paper The Express Tribune said Zainab Bibi had been living at the house with her 17-year-old daughter Sonia and Ahmad Abbas, who she married 5 years ago and who used to be the girl’s teacher when she was at school.
Zainab Bibi was quoted in the paper as saying: “When he finally died, I felt shudders of fear for the first time.
“I didn’t have the courage to approach his body for the next half an hour.
“It occurred to me that if I cooked the body in parts with spices and aromatic ingredients that would curb the stench.”
Zainab Bibi insisted she had no plans to eat the resulting dish, or to feed it to others, adding: “I had a plan to do away with the cooked stuff by throwing it in a gutter. I would say to people that it had spoiled.”
The woman claims she had stopped Ahmad Abbas from molesting her daughter on several occasions, admitting that he had never actually laid a hand on her but had said suggestive things about her when he was drunk.
The rest of Ahmad Abbas’s body was found in an aluminium trunk on the premise.
Alexa Ray Joel revealed an ex-boyfriend gave her an STI, HPV, during a bizarre interview.
Alexa Ray Joel, 25, made the shocking revelation that she contracted HPV (human papillomavirus) while speaking with XO Jane.
During the interview XO Jane began talking about when an ex-boyfriend have given her a sexually transmitted disease, then Alexa Ray Joel, who is the daughter of Joel and Christine Brinkley, revealed she had contracted HPV.
Alexa Ray Joel said: “I had it. But I mean, a lot of people get it from my ex.
“I mean it was fine, you know. There are no side effects.
“You just go and get it taken care of.”
Alexa Ray Joel revealed an ex-boyfriend gave her an STI, HPV, during a bizarre interview
Alexa Ray Joel, who is also a singer and a songwriter just like her father, said:
“It’s something like, I think the statistics were something like 98% of people will have it.”
While Alexa Ray Joel revealed she was living with the ex, at the time she did not give the name of the man who she believes gave her the disease.
HPV, which has nearly 200 known types, causes no symptoms in most people some types can cause warts while others can lead to cancer in the genital areas.
In 2009, Alexa Ray Joel swallowed a handful of sleeping pills in what was reported as a suicide attempt following a break-up with her boyfriend.
After the ambulance came, Alexa Ray Joel was taken to New York’s St. Vincent’s Hospital where she was treated and released after a few hours.
In 2010, she spoke about the incident for the first time saying: “My West Village apartment never felt like my home. It was lonely. I was out of a relationship, and I was struggling with it. It was too big for me.”
“I have a flair for the dramatic,” Alexa Ray Joel told the New York Post of the incident.
“I got caught up in my own head. It was a panic. I didn’t want to die. I just didn’t want to feel what I was feeling at that moment anymore.”
Alexa Ray Joel’s drama was triggered by her split from boyfriend of five years, rock musician Jimmy Riot, whom she met when she was 19 and he was 34.