Depression and antidepressant use may not be associated with increased risk of breast cancer, according to a recent study published online ahead of print in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.1

Susan Brown, PhD, and fellow researchers from the University of Massachusetts looked at 71 439 postmenopausal women through the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study (WHI-OS) and used Cox proportional hazards regression to determine independent and joint effects of depressive symptoms and antidepressant use on breast cancer risk.

They found that neither depressive symptoms nor antidepressant use at baseline were associated with a significantly increased risk of total breast cancer when analyzed separately.

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Current antidepressant use was associated with a borderline-significant increase of in situ breast cancer upon adjusting for depressive symptoms. However, this relationship was attenuated upon adjusting for mammographic screening.

“Given the high prevalence of these exposures, these results may provide reassurance to the millions of women who are depressed and/or use antidepressants each year,” the authors concluded.


1. Brown SB, Hankinson SE, Arcaro KF, et al. Depression, antidepressant use, and postmenopausal breast cancer risk [published online ahead of print November 17, 2015]. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-15-1063.