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Study Ties Antidepressant Paxil to Breast Cancer

Update Date: Feb 21, 2014 01:53 PM EST

In a new study, a research team from the City of Hope located in Duarte, CA analyzed hundreds of drugs and chemicals in order to see how they affected the development of certain diseases, such as breast cancer and the balance of sex hormones within the body. Based from the team's trial drug screening, the researchers were able to tie an antidepressant known as Paxil to promoting breast cancer.

For this study, the researchers looked at 446 drugs that are currently in use. The researchers found that Paxil, also known as paroxetine, had a very weak estrogenic effect on women. They stated that this effect could end up encouraging the development and progression of breast cancer in women.

The researchers stated that this newly identified link could be troublesome because many breast cancer patients deal with depression. In order to treat their depression, doctors tend to prescribe them with antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Paxil, which has been on the market since 1992, is a part of the SSRIs drug group. If breast cancers patients are taking Paxil frequently, it could potentially hurt their battle against breast cancer.

In a 2010 study, researchers had reported that breast cancer patients in Canada who took Paxil were more likely to die in comparison to breast cancer patients who took other antidepressants. This study found that the risk of death was higher when the patients were taking Paxil at the same time that they were taking tamoxifen, which is used to prevent the breast cancer from recurring.

Aside from Paxil, the researchers also found two antifungal medications that had an anti-estrogenic effect that was very similar to the effect of breast cancer medications. These antifungal medications, biconazole and oxyconazole, can inhibit enzyme activity in charge of converting androgens into estrogen.

The findings were published in the journal, Toxicological Sciences.

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