Researchers from the Newcastle University in the UK have warned that regular use of commonly prescribed painkillers may double the risk of developing obesity and also cause sleep deprivation. Over the past 10 years, there has been a large increase in the prescription of medications such as opioids and some antidepressants for chronic pain management.
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 (BMI), waist circumference and blood pressure were studied.
The findings, published in the journal PLOS ONE, shows that medications commonly used to treat pain, like gabapentinoids, gabapentin, pregabilin and opiates, doubled the risk of obesity and were associated with poor sleep.
The study shows that people on opiates and cardio- metabolic drugs reported 95 per cent rates of obesity, 82 per cent ‘very high’ waist circumference and 63 per cent hypertension, as opposed to those on cardio-metabolic drugs only. The results suggest that chronic pain medications should be prescribed for shorter periods of time to limit serious health complications.
In 2016, 24 million opiates prescriptions were issued in the UK, exactly double the amount of 2006. Two years ago, 11,000 patients were admitted to hospital due to an opiate overdose. Opioids are recognised as being among the most dangerous prescription painkillers because they are addictive which can lead to them being abused. Patients can require continuous use of the drugs to feel normal and avoid symptoms of withdrawal.
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