Risk of breast cancer according to use of antidepressants, phenothiazines, and antihistamines

Judith P. Kelly, Lynn Rosenberg, Julie R. Palmer, R. Sowmya Rao, Brian L. Strom, Paul D. Stolley, Ann G. Zauber, Samuel Shapiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


In laboratory studies, some antidepressants caused increased growth of mammary tumors. The relation of use of these drugs to the development of breast cancer was examined in a hospital-based case-control study. Information, including lifetime medication history, was collected by interview from 5,814 women with primary breast cancer diagnosed within the previous year, 5,095 women with primary malignancies of other sites, and 5,814 women with other conditions. Relative risks were estimated by using unconditional multiple logistic regression for regular use (≥4 days per week for ≥4 weeks beginning ≥1 year before admission) of antidepressants and structurally similar drugs. With reference to never use of each drug, relative risks were statistically compatible with 1.0 for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), tricyclics, other antidepressants, phenothiazines, and antihistamines; results were very similar using both control groups. There were no significant increases in risk for any category of regular use, stratified according to cumulative duration of use or time interval since the most recent use or for any individual drug within the broader classes. However, the estimate for regular SSRI use in the previous year, 1.8, was of borderline statistical significance (95% confidence interval: 1.0, 3.3). The findings do not support an overall association between the use of antidepressants, phenothiazines, or antihistamines and breast cancer. However, the results for SSRIs are not entirely reassuring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)861-868
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 15 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Epidemiology


  • Antidepressive agents
  • Breast neoplasms
  • Case-control studies
  • Histamine H1 antagonists
  • Phenothiazines
  • Second-generation
  • Serotonin uptake inhibitors
  • Tricyclic

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Risk of breast cancer according to use of antidepressants, phenothiazines, and antihistamines'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this