Can Librium/Valium Promote Alzheimer’s? Read on. A study published by the journal BMJ suggests that benzodiazepine use may promote the development of dementia. A benzodiazepine sometimes colloquially “benzo“; often abbreviated “BZD“) is a psychoactive drug. The first such drug, Librium, was discovered accidentally by Leo Sternbach in 1955, and made available in 1960 by HoffmannÛÒLa Roche, which has also marketed the benzodiazepine diazepam (Valium) since 1963. Benzodiazepines are useful in treating anxiety, insomnia, agitation, seizures, muscle spasms, alcohol withdrawal and as a premedication for medical or dental procedures. A team of researchers from France and Canada linked benzodiazepine use to an increased risk of being diagnosed with AlzheimerÛªs disease. In the study, the greater a personÛªs cumulative dose of benzodiazepines, the higher his or her risk of AlzheimerÛªs. ÛÏBenzodiazepines are risky to use in older people because they can cause confusion and slow down mental processes, Û says Dr. Anne Fabiny, chief of geriatrics at Harvard-affiliated Cambridge Health Alliance, speaking to Harvard Health Publications. ÛÏHowever, although there is an association, we still canÛªt say that benzodiazepines actually cause AlzheimerÛªs,Û she cautions. The researchers identified nearly 2,000 men and women over age 66 who had been diagnosed with AlzheimerÛªs disease. They randomly selected more than 7,000 others without AlzheimerÛªs who were matched for age and sex to those with the disease. Once the groups were set, the researchers looked at the drug prescriptions during the five to six years preceding the AlzheimerÛªs diagnosis. People who had taken a benzodiazepine for three months or less had about the same dementia risk as those who had never taken one. Taking the drug for three to six months raised the risk of developing AlzheimerÛªs by 32%, and taking it for more than six months boosted the risk by 84%. People who were on a long-acting benzodiazepine like Valium and Dalmane were at greater risk than those on a short-acting one like Halcion, Ativan), Xanax and Restoril. The researchers acknowledge that the use of benzodiazepines could be just a signal that people are trying to cope with anxiety and sleep disruptionÛÓtwo common symptoms of early AlzheimerÛªs disease. Limiting the use of a benzodiazepine for anxiety or sleep troubles may be one small step toward prevention. Check with your doctor.