Mad in America
Is Long-term Use of Benzodiazepines a Risk for Cancer?
A large study of the population in Taiwan reveals that long-term use of benzodiazepine drugs, commonly prescribed for anxiety, significantly increases the risk for brain, colorectal, and lung cancers.
Is Long-term Use of Benzodiazepine a Risk for Cancer?
The study strength is that it is a population-based design to evaluate the risk for cancers. However, this study also have some limitations regarding data information like alcoholism, smoking status and lifestyle which is not available in the BNHI database and could influence on the findings. Another limitation could be related to cohort study design regarding population sample and confounding adjustments, even after adjustments there could be unknown confounders which might create bias to results. The inclusion of non-users which might not be pure controls as we studied the cancer risk between users and nonusers. Another limitation could be the simplified e-claim by general physicians in Taiwan. It is always lower quality then the randomized control trial studies as BNHI data serves for administrative billing not for scientific validation purpose. Moreover, the number of drug uses are just for reference which might not provide accurate reflection whether the individuals taken drugs as recommended by practitioners. In Taiwan, the NHI reimburse for maximum 90 days prescription as well as the self-pay category was not included in this study. Since, in this study we observed BZDs exposure but not their mechanism and metabolism related to cancer which could be also limitation. Therefore, further animal or cellular model are needed to help in identifying a possible biological mechanism linking BZDs with risk of cancers.