Antidepressant Prescription and Risk of Lung Cancer: A Nationwide Case-Control Study

Pharmacopsychiatry. 2019 Mar;52(3):134-141. doi: 10.1055/a-0596-0819. Epub 2018 Apr 16.


Introduction: In recent decades, concern about safety of antidepressants has been raised but the risk between antidepressants and lung cancer has not yet been established.

Methods: A case-control study was conducted by using a nationwide database in Taiwan. The case groups were new onset lung cancer diagnosis during 1999-2008 and age- and gender-matched controls were selected among those without any cancer. The cumulative exposure dose before the lung cancer diagnosis was added and risks were calculated according to the levels of defined daily dose and classes of antidepressants.

Results: A total of 39,001 individuals with lung cancer and 189,906 individuals without lung cancer between 1999 and 2008 were included in the analysis. Antidepressants, of any class, were not associated with elevated risks for lung cancer with the exception of bupropion at high exposure levels (odds ratio=4.81, 95% confidence interval=1.39-16.71).

Discussion: Antidepressant prescription was not associated with elevation of lung cancer incidence using a nationally representative sample. The elevated risk for lung cancer with bupropion at high doses may be a bias by indication and warrant longitudinal investigation.

MeSH terms

  • Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation / adverse effects*
  • Bupropion / adverse effects*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Lung Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • National Health Programs / statistics & numerical data
  • Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Taiwan / epidemiology


  • Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation
  • Bupropion