Psychotropic medication use and risk of hormone-related cancers: the New York University Women's Health Study

J Public Health Med. 2000 Jun;22(2):155-60. doi: 10.1093/pubmed/22.2.155.


Background: The use of psychotropic medications may increase the risk of hormone-related cancers in females through increased gonadotropin secretion, but the data from epidemiologic studies are limited to evaluate the hypothesis.

Methods: The association between the use of psychotropic medications and cancer incidence was studied in a prospective cohort study that involves 15,270 women who participated in mammographic screening. The relative risks (RR) and 95 per cent confidence intervals (CIs) for cancer associated with the use of psychotropic medications were estimated by the Cox's proportional hazard model.

Results: During an average of 7.3 years of follow-up, 1,130 incident cases of cancer were identified, including 566 breast, 67 endometrial and 47 ovarian cancers. The use of any type of psychotropic medication at baseline was associated with increased risks of breast [relative risk (RR) = 1.39, 95 per cent CI 1.11-1.74], endometrial (RR=1.71; 95 per cent CI 0.93-3.14) and ovarian (RR= 1.48, 95 per cent CI 0.69-3.16) cancers, whereas no increase in risk was observed for other cancers (RR = 1.06). When the subjects were divided by menopausal status at baseline, premenopausal women tended to have higher risk of all hormone-related cancers (RR = 1.73, 95 per cent CI 1.27-2.35) than postmenopausal women (RR=1.23, 95 per cent CI 0.94-1.62). The magnitude of the RR associated with the use of these medications did not change by length of follow-up. Analysis by type of medication did not find that the association was limited to specific types.

Conclusion: The observed association needs to be confirmed in further studies based on more detailed medication history.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Mammography
  • Mass Screening
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms, Hormone-Dependent / chemically induced*
  • Neoplasms, Hormone-Dependent / epidemiology*
  • New York / epidemiology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Postmenopause
  • Premenopause
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychotropic Drugs / adverse effects*
  • Risk
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Psychotropic Drugs