Use of antidepressants and the risk of breast cancer: A meta-analysis

Chun Sick Eom, Sang Min Park, Kyung Hwan Cho

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    28 Citations (Scopus)


    The goal of this study was to perform a meta-analysis to examine the association between the use of antidepressants (AD) and the risk of breast cancer. We searched the EMBASE and MEDLINE databases from inception through February 25, 2012, using search terms related to ADs and breast cancer. Two evaluators independently reviewed and selected articles and extracted data based on predetermined selection criteria. Pooled effect estimates were obtained by using random- and fixed effects meta-analyses. Of the 3,209 titles identified, 18 articles met the inclusion criteria. The overall risk of breast cancer did not increase among AD users [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 1.02; 95 % CI 0.96-1.08]. Those who took tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) were not at increased risks of breast cancer. In subgroup meta-analyses, null associations were consistent across the type of AD, funding sources, the number of adjusted variables, medication dose, the ascertainment of exposure, and methodological quality. In subgroup analyses based on exposure duration, a marginal association was observed for the use of SSRIs < 1-2 years (aOR 1.10; 95 % CI 1.02-1.19). However, this effect was attenuated over time and those using SSRIs for more than 1-2 years had no elevated breast cancer risk. These results support the lack of a clinically meaningful association between AD use and the development of breast cancer and provide considerable reassurance. Given that the data collected to date do not support changing the current prescribing patterns for ADs, the important benefits of AD therapy must be considered.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)635-645
    Number of pages11
    JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2012 Dec


    • Antidepressants
    • Breast cancer
    • Meta-analysis
    • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
    • Tricyclic antidepressants

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Oncology
    • Cancer Research


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