Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs commonly used to treat insomnia and anxiety. But long-term use of benzodiazepines has been associated with several risk factors. This study aims to investigate the risk of incident dementia and cognitive decline associated with higher cumulative use of benzodiazepines.

This prospective, population-based, cohort study included a total of 3,434 participants aged 65 or more without dementia. Eligible participants had benzodiazepine exposure over a 10-year period. The researchers examined the participants for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease using the standard diagnostic criteria. The primary outcome of the study was the incidence of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease measured using multivariable Cox proportional hazard models.

A total of 797 participants (23.2%) developed dementia, and 637 of them developed Alzheimer’s disease over a mean follow-up of 7.2 years. The adjusted hazard ratios associated with the cumulative use of benzodiazepines compared with non-use was 1.25 for 1-30 TSDDs, 1.31 for 31-120 TSDDs, and 1.07 for ≥121 TSDDs. The results were found to be similar to Alzheimer’s disease. However, higher use of benzodiazepines was not associated with increased cognitive decline.

The research concluded that high cumulative use of benzodiazepines was associated with an increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in older adults.