Sleeping tablets taken by millions of people in Britain could double the chances of breaking a bone by increasing the likelihood of a fall, major research shows.
The risk of a fracture soared in those relying on the drugs to get a good night’s sleep.
The pills are thought to add to daytime drowsiness in those with existing sleep problems. Elderly people are most in danger, scientists found, but even those in their fifties and early sixties could be affected.
Experts behind the latest findings warn they are significant because they show newer sleeping pills – originally thought to be safer than previous generations of tablets – are potentially even more dangerous.
An estimated one in ten people in the UK regularly use sleeping tablets. Doctors prescribe around £50million of pills every year.
But they have been dogged by safety concerns. In 2013, scientists warned certain drugs, known as Z-hypnotics, increased the risk of heart attacks by up to 50 per cent.