Popular Anti-Depressant May Increase Risk of Breast Cancer: Study

By Bruce Hensel
|  Wednesday, Feb 19, 2014  |  Updated 7:16 PM PDT
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Anti-Depressant May Increase Risk of Breast Cancer

AP

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Women with breast cancer often take antidepressant and anti-anxiety drugs for the stress that their diagnosis may bring, but a new study suggests those women should not take one of the most popular mood-enhancing drugs.

Scientists at City of Hope in Duarte found that Paxil – chemically known as paroxetine – may have a mild hormonal effect: mimicking estrogen which may play a role in the development or spread of up to 70 percent of breast cancers.

This research supports potential Paxil dangers found in two other studies.

A 2010 study out of Canada showed that breast cancer patients who took Paxil were more likely to die of breast cancer if they took it in concert with Tamoxifen. Another study, this one by Dutch scientists, linked Paxil to an increased risk of birth defects in children born to mothers who took Paxil.

The study did not show that women who took Paxil got cancer more often.

“Women should not panic. The risks found in the latest study may be – at this point – only theoretical,” NBC4 medical correspondent Dr. Bruce Hensel said. “While they showed hormonal change, they did not look at actual breast cancer cases. Women who are on Paxil should not stop it on their own. They should discuss the new findings with their doctor and decide what medicine, if any, is best for them.”

There was at least one positive finding: the same testing method used in this study identified two antifungal medications — biconazole and oxyconazole — as having an anti-estrogenic effect similar to that of medications prescribed to prevent breast cancer and its recurrences in women.

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