Antidepressant Use and Breast Cancer: Exploring a New Threat
Research has found a suspicious link between the use of anti-depressant medication and some very unpleasant side effects including headaches, stomach aches, nervousness, increased risk of miscarriage, autism and suicidal thoughts. But that’s not all. With results from 61 different studies, researchers are once again pointing a finger at anti-depressants. This time, they are saying that women who take a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
Women are among the top users of the 27 million Americans who take antidepressants on a regular basis. In fact, women are diagnosed more than twice as much as men with Major Depressive Disorder and three times more frequently diagnosed with enduring depression known as Dysthymic Disorder. The link between the use of antidepressants and breast cancer is alarming due to the fact that the Alliance for Human Research Protection reports that one woman out of eight will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in her life. Not only is breast cancer an issue with the number of women taking antidepressants, but also the fact that antidepressant use is linked to birth defects, threatening the health of not only women but also children.
To make matters more complicated, antidepressants are prescribed to women on a regular basis for a wide number of non-depression related health conditions such as eating disorders, hot flashes and headaches. Overall, antidepressants fall in line only behind painkillers and cholesterol-lowering drugs in terms of the amount of prescriptions written.
No One Knows
There is mounting concern, however, that the critical association between antidepressant use and breast cancer is not being taken seriously enough. One observation is that the link is being buried for fear that the pharmaceutical and medical industry may suffer financial loss if such information were to be “front page news”, so to speak. Much of the evidence that realizes the imminent danger of antidepressants is never seen by the public or study results are so skewed that a relationship is very hard to demonstrate. Pharmaceutical industry ghost writers far too often paint a rather rosy picture of antidepressants and other drugs, downplaying the side effects, in order to increase sales.
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The Alliance for Human Research Protection states that the use of antidepressants in America has doubled between 1996 and 2005 while studies have indicated a scary link to health conditions such as increased risk of stroke, heart disease and psychological problems. We can now, unfortunately, add an increased risk of breast cancer to this list.