Antidepressant Link to Breast and Ovarian Cancer ScrutinizedApr 7th, 2011 | By Roy Rasmussen | Category: Health
The possible link between antidepressants and breast and ovarian cancer needs to be looked at more objectively, according to a study published in this week’s issue of PLoS One. The study surveyed results of 61 previous studies, and found that the risk of cancer increased 11 percent on average for patients taking antidepressants. The survey also revealed that studies associated with financial ties to drug companies were significantly more likely to find no association between antidepressants and breast/ovarian cancer. This suggested a bias that needs to be addressed in future research.
“I would want to consider nondrug treatment if I was mildly depressed, given our data,” study team leader Dr. Lisa Cosgrove said.
The study was based on a survey of 61 English-language articles in MEDLINE, PsychINFO, the Science Citations Index, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Clinical Trials through November 2010. Of the 61 articles reviewed, thirty-three percent (20/61) reported a positive association between antidepressants and cancer, while sixty-seven percent (41/61) reported no association or antiproliferative effect. Not one of the 15 articles where there was a drug manufacturer link found an association between antidepressants and cancer, while 43 percent of the 46 others did.
The authors concluded that both the pre-clinical and clinical data display mixed results in terms of showing an association between antidepressant use and breast and ovarian cancer. They recommended further investigation of the possibility that antidepressants may exhibit a bi-phasic effect, where short-term use and/or low dose antidepressants may increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancer. They found that industry affiliations were significantly associated with negative risk assessments. They concluded that the findings have implications in light of the 2009 USPSTF guidelines for breast cancer screening and informed consent.
The study was conducted by a team led by Dr. Cosgrove, a research lab fellow at Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics in Cambridge, Massachusetts and an associate professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts Boston.
The research was funded in part by grants awarded to Dr. Cosgrove by the non-profit cancer foundation “Men with Heart” and two internal grants from the University of Massachusetts-Boston. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The authors declared that no competing interests exist.