Common mental health drugs may increase breast cancer risk

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Antipsychotic drugs are commonly prescribed for patients with various psychiatric disorders, but a recent study from The University of Hong Kong has found that their use is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer.

The study, which reviewed studies with over 2 million individuals, estimated a moderate association between antipsychotic use and breast cancer by over 30%.

This highlights the importance of assessing the risk-benefit of antipsychotic prescriptions in high-risk patients.

Patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have consistently been reported to have elevated breast cancer incidence, and antipsychotic use is speculated to potentially explain part of the increased risk.

Possible mechanisms include antipsychotic-induced hyperprolactinemia, antipsychotic-mediated weight gain, and poorer lifestyle among antipsychotic users.

The study aimed to synthesize existing evidence and determine the association between antipsychotic use and breast cancer.

Nine studies with over 2 million adults were included, and the team found that six of the nine studies had reported a strong association between the use of antipsychotic medications and an increased risk of breast cancer.

The meta-analysis estimated a moderate positive association of an elevated risk of more than 30% among antipsychotic users.

Some reviewed evidence showed that a longer duration of antipsychotic use is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer, particularly for antipsychotics with prolactin-elevating properties.

For example, one study compared prolonged periods of prolactin-increasing antipsychotic use to those exposed for less than a year, which showed a significantly increased risk among those exposed for at least five years by nearly 60%.

The current research highlights that breast cancer could be a rare adverse event of antipsychotic medications.

The elevated breast cancer risk may be explained by hyperprolactinemia and other complications possibly induced by antipsychotics, such as central obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

The study was conducted by Dr. Francisco Lai Tsz-tsun et al and published in Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences.

It underscores the importance of evaluating the potential risks of antipsychotic drug use in patients with psychiatric disorders.

How to prevent breast cancer

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide, and while there is no surefire way to prevent it, there are several steps you can take to reduce your risk:

Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese increases your risk of breast cancer, especially after menopause.

Exercise regularly: Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week.

Limit alcohol intake: The more alcohol you drink, the higher your risk of developing breast cancer.

Don’t smoke: Smoking has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, especially in younger women.

Breastfeed: Women who breastfeed for a longer duration have a lower risk of breast cancer than those who do not.

Get regular mammograms: Women who are at average risk of breast cancer should begin screening at age 50, while women at high risk may need to begin screening earlier.

Know your family history: If you have a family history of breast cancer, you may need to begin screening at an earlier age or undergo genetic testing.

By following these steps, you can help reduce your risk of breast cancer and promote overall health and wellness.

If you care about nutrition, please read studies that ultra-processed foods may make you feel depressed, and Vitamin D could help reduce depression symptoms.

For more information about cancer, please see recent studies about aspirin linked to better bladder, breast cancer survival, and results showing a major cause of deadly breast cancer.

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