Women taking antidepressants are not at increased risk for epithelial ovarian cancer, according to a large-scale analysis of eight studies.
While a combination of multiple studies is the best approach to determine an association, authors of the paper, “Association between antidepressant medication use and epithelial ovarian cancer risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies,” ask for future prospective studies to confirm their findings, which was published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.
Most of the people taking antidepressants in the U.S. are women. A few studies have shown an association between certain classes of antidepressants and the development of tumors such as mammary tumors, fibrosarcoma, and melanoma in experimental animals.
Although the mechanisms are still unclear, the effect seems to be mediated by hormonal imbalance as a result of the antidepressant treatments, resulting in a cancerous state. Other studies have suggested an opposite association, but the results are inconsistent overall, and there is need for comprehensive studies.
Given that circumstance, researchers at the Shengjing Hospital of China Medical University aimed to evaluate the association between antidepressant use and epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC).
The team analyzed data from published studies that had investigated the use of antidepressants and cancer from 1984 to August 2017. After filtering the studies, researchers ended up with eight published studies involving 7,878 EOC cases and 73,913 control participants.
All studies had a case-control study design and the number of cases in each study ranged from 150 to 4,103. Case-control studies are those that match patients with controls and look for differences in a given factor, antidepressant use in this case. The association between antidepressant use and EOC reported in these studies was then statistically analyzed.
Overall, the results indicate there is no significant association between the use of antidepressants and the risk of EOC. This included the use of several types of antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclics (TCAs).
Compared to previous studies that had addressed the same question, the current study had a larger sample size of both patients and controls, which is one of its strengths.
“The results of the present updated meta-analysis involving the largest sample size to date and mostly included comprehensive observational studies showed no association between antidepressant use and the risk of EOC,” the researchers concluded. “Further prospective studies are warranted to confirm these findings.”