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Shorten painkiller prescriptions to avoid health complications

Commonly prescribed painkillers need to be given for shorter periods of time to reduce the risk of obesity and sleep deprivation, researchers say

Commonly prescribed painkillers need to be given for shorter periods of time to reduce the risk of obesity and sleep deprivation, researchers say.

A Newcastle University study published in PLOS ONE found medications commonly used to treat pain, including gabapentinoids such as gabapentin and opiates, doubled the risk of obesity and were associated with poor sleep.

24 million

opiate prescriptions were issued in the UK in 2016, double the amount in 2006.

Source: PLOS ONE

Scientists assessed the cardio-metabolic health - the inter-relationship between metabolic and cardiovascular disease - in more than 133,000 participants from the UK Biobank.

Body mass index, waist circumference and blood pressure were compared between those taking painkillers for chronic, non-cancer pain and cardio-metabolic drugs, against those prescribed cardio-metabolic treatment only.

Scientists found

...

Reducing painkillers could lessen the likelihood of sleep deprivation. Picture: iStock

Commonly prescribed painkillers need to be given for shorter periods of time to reduce the risk of obesity and sleep deprivation, researchers say.

A Newcastle University study published in PLOS ONE found medications commonly used to treat pain, including gabapentinoids such as gabapentin and opiates, doubled the risk of obesity and were associated with poor sleep.

24 million

opiate prescriptions were issued in the UK in 2016, double the amount in 2006.

Source: PLOS ONE

Scientists assessed the cardio-metabolic health - the inter-relationship between metabolic and cardiovascular disease - in more than 133,000 participants from the UK Biobank.

Body mass index, waist circumference and blood pressure were compared between those taking painkillers for chronic, non-cancer pain and cardio-metabolic drugs, against those prescribed cardio-metabolic treatment only.

Scientists found people on opiates and cardio-metabolic drugs had a 95% increased risk of becoming obese, 82% increased risk of a 'very high' waist circumference and 63% risk of hypertension, compared with those taking cardio-metabolic drugs only.

Results suggest that chronic pain medications should be prescribed for shorter periods of time to limit serious health complications.

Lead author Sophie Cassidy said: 'We already know that opiates are dependency-forming but this study also found patients taking opiates have the worst health.

'These results add further weight to calls for these chronic pain medications to be prescribed for shorter periods.'


Cassidy S et al (2017) The cardio-metabolic impact of taking commonly prescribed analgesic drugs in 133,401 UK Biobank participants. PLOS ONE. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0187982

 

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