Use Of Opioids and Gabapentinoids Greatly Increases Risk Of Obesity And Hypertension, Study Finds
According to a new study, prescription painkillers such as opioids and gabapentinoids substantially increase the risk of obesity and hypertension. Opioids include drugs that treat moderate to severe pain such as OxyContin, and gabapentinoids such as Lyrica are indicated to treat chronic nerve pain.
For the study, researchers examined the health data for more than 133,000 subjects and compared the BMI (body mass index), waist circumference, blood pressure and sleeping patterns of those taking painkillers to those in a control group.
Indeed, researchers found that those taking opioids were 95% more likely to be obese, 82% more likely have a high waist circumference, and 63% more likely to have high blood pressure to those who did not use them.
But why? Researchers speculated that weight gain might be the product of decreased activity due to sedation.
They also posited that opioids might alter taste perception and produce cravings for sugar and sweets. According to Practical Pain Management, patients using opioids often “gain weight and prefer sweet foods” and that the weight gain “may be profound.” The use of opioids may also result in unstable blood sugar levels and hypoglycemia.
Also, patients who used gabapentinoids also had a higher risk of obesity, a more substantial waistline, and higher blood pressure compared to those in the control group. Of note, many patients who have been prescribed gabapentinoids have also complained about adverse side effects such as depression, anxiety, and weight gain.
The authors concluded:
“The impact of medications for chronic pain and sleep upon CM health and obesity is of concern for these classes of drugs which have been recently labeled as dependency forming medications.
The results from this cross-sectional study warrant further investigation and add further support to calls for these medications to be prescribed for shorter periods.”
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology