Breast cancer recurrence risk in relation to antidepressant use after diagnosis

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2008 Nov;112(1):123-32. doi: 10.1007/s10549-007-9828-9. Epub 2007 Dec 6.


Background: While laboratory data suggest that antidepressants may promote mammary tumor growth, there has been little research investigating whether antidepressant use after breast cancer diagnosis is associated with the risk of breast cancer recurrence.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study within Group Health, an integrated healthcare delivery system in Washington state. Women diagnosed with a first primary invasive, stage I, IIA, or IIB, unilateral breast carcinoma between 1990-1994 (aged>or=65 years) and 1996-1999 (aged>or=18 years) were eligible for the study (N=1306). Recurrence within 5-year of diagnosis was ascertained by medical chart review. We used the pharmacy database to identify antidepressant dispensings from Group Health pharmacies. We used multiple Cox regression to estimate the hazard ratio for recurrence and breast cancer mortality, comparing users and non-users of antidepressant medications. Results for recurrence were examined separately in users and non-users of tamoxifen.

Results: We did not observe an association between antidepressant use after breast cancer diagnosis and the risk of recurrence either in general (hazard ratio for any antidepressant use: 0.8; 95% confidence interval: 0.5-1.4) or for specific types of antidepressant medication. Risk of death from breast cancer did not differ between non-users and users of antidepressants.

Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that women who use antidepressants after breast cancer diagnosis do not have an increased risk of recurrence or mortality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antidepressive Agents / adverse effects*
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Lobular / diagnosis
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / diagnosis*
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Antidepressive Agents