Hidden in plain sight
It’s been right under our noses for years.
And now we find out that researchers have known for decades about a potential link between antidepressant use and increased risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
It’s staggering to think of what this means.
Could it really be possible that one of the most popular class of drugs of all time might be driving a major health disaster that spans several generations of women?
The answer, in one hard word: yes.
Don’t follow the money
Recently, a Harvard team reviewed more than 60 trials, covering 35 years of research, going all the way back to 1965.
Approximately one-third of the studies suggested a higher risk of ovarian and breast cancers for antidepressant drug users.
That news alone would be bad enough. But this study has multiple layers to peel back– one disturbing layer after another.
For instance: Among the different types of antidepressants, researchers found that the cancer link appears to be slightly stronger with women who use the very popular selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, and Celexa.
That reminded me of a drug called Sarafem that I told you about several years ago. Sarafem is prescribed for relief of premenstrual irritability. But it’s nothing more than repackaged Prozac! It’s scary to imagine how many women out there are using this drug, completely unaware of what they’re actually taking and the potential risks involved.
The Harvard researchers also found a surprising association with length of antidepressant use. In the study’s conclusions, the authors theorize that short-term use and/or low dose antidepressants may increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancers.
Also, women who have either of these cancers in early stages may worsen the severity of their disease.
Could it get any worse? Oh yes. And it does…
Prior evidence has shown us that when research has ties to the drug industry, results tend to skew toward positive outcomes, putting drug use in a favorable light. So the Harvard team reevaluated the data to compare studies conducted without industry participation and 15 studies funded by industry.
None of the industry studies found any cancer links.
But nearly HALF of the non-industry studies revealed links to these two devastating cancers.
If we were talking about some wonderfully effective life-saving drug, raising cancer risk might be acceptable–borderline, but acceptable. But just the opposite is true here. Antidepressants have been shown to work about as well as St. John’s wort in relieving mild to moderate depression.
In addition, several other supplements have been proven to help keep depression in check. Vitamin D, high levels of B vitamins (which include folate, a proven depression- fighter), magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids have all been shown to help reduce depressive symptoms.
Regular exercise, deep breathing, and a little direct sunlight exposure (for optimal D) are also very helpful for some.
Please share this with the women in your life to let them know they can protect themselves from this unnecessary cancer risk.
“Antidepressants and Breast and Ovarian Cancer Risk: A Review of the Literature and Researchers’ Financial Associations with Industry” PLoS Medicine, 4/6/11, plosone.org