Eric B. Larson, MD, senior investigator with Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute, discussed research on benzodiazepines and the risk of dementia in a recent Medscape video.
The video, “Three Doctors on Benzodiazepines and Dementia Risk,” featured Dr. Larson and Nassir Ghaemi, MD, of Tufts Medical Center and Donovan T. Maust, MD, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Benzodiazepines are prescription medications used to treat anxiety, panic disorders, seizures, muscle tension, and insomnia.
“Benzodiazepines are used extensively in the elderly population,” Dr. Larson said. “Depending on what survey you’re reading, probably 20% to 30% of people are exposed to these drugs. Many of them are taking them on a daily basis or in multiple doses.”
Dr. Larson joined his colleagues in concluding that a review of current evidence does not show a link between benzodiazepine medications and the increased risk of dementia.
“More recent studies, including our own in 2016 … showed that when you look at a community population and try as best as you can to control for confounding by an indication or reverse causality, there is no association,” said Dr. Larson, an attending physician in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Washington Medical Centers in Seattle.