Some Antidepressants Suspected to Increase Breast Cancer Recurrence Rate

At the annual conference of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, scientists presented a new study that found certain antidepressants may interfere with the effectiveness of tamoxifen, a drug commonly taken by breast cancer survivors to keep the cancer from coming back, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article.

Tamoxifen has been used for decades to treat breast cancer and, for the survivors, to prevent tumors from forming again. One of the most common side effects of tamoxifen is hot flashes, which can be controlled by SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) antidepressants such as Paxil and Prozac. The new study shows that this cocktail of drugs seems to account for a higher recurrence rate of breast cancer. The study followed almost 1,500 women whose average age was in the early 50s. Researchers found that women who took both tamoxifen and the SSRI antidepressants were almost twice as likely to have their breast cancer return within two years.

At the same ASCO conference, another paper was presented that found no correlation between breast cancer recurrence rate and use of antidepressants. However, authors of this second study pointed out that this study included a much smaller pool of subjects, and they join authors of the first study in recommending that other options should be considered to treat hot flashes.

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