A new study compared more than 10,000 people who used sleep aids to almost twice as many people, with similar health histories, who did not use sleep aids.
Researchers found that participants using sleeping pills were four times more likely to have died during the study’s 2.5 year follow up, than those who did not.
Researchers also reported a 35 percent increased risk of cancer among participants using sleeping pills, when compared to non-prescription participants. TIME.com reports that study leader Dr. Daniel Kripke, co-director of research at the Scripps Clinic, said the risk of developing lymphoma, lung, colon or prostate cancer due to sleeping pills is greater than the effect from smoking.
The study also reported a correlation between the number of doses people were prescribed and the likelihood of death before the end of the study. Patients taking 132 doses or more a year were five times more likely to die than those not taking sleeping pills.