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Antidepressant Use and Risk of Colorectal Cancer in The Women’s Health Initiative

Background: Some prior studies have reported reduced colorectal cancer risk among individuals using antidepressant medications, especially selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Yet most studies have not considered the potential role of depression or other confounders in their analyses.Methods: We utilized prospectively collected data from 145,190 participants in the Women’s Health Initiative, among whom 2,580 incident colorectal cancer cases were diagnosed. Antidepressant use and depressive symptoms were assessed at baseline and follow-up study visits. Cox proportional hazards regression models with adjustment for depressive symptoms and other covariates were utilized to estimate HRs and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for associations between antidepressant use and colorectal cancer.Results: Antidepressant use was reported by 6.9% of participants at baseline, with SSRIs the most common class of antidepressant used. In multivariable analyses, including adjustment for depressive symptomology, we observed no statistically significant association between antidepressant use overall (HR = 0.90; 95% CI, 0.75-1.09) or with SSRIs specifically (HR = 1.08; 95% CI, 0.85-1.37) and colorectal cancer risk. A borderline significant reduction in colorectal cancer risk was observed for use of tricyclic antidepressants (HR = 0.76; 95% CI, 0.56-1.04). Severe depressive symptoms were independently associated with a 20% increased risk of colorectal cancer (HR = 1.21; 95% CI, 1.09-1.48). Results were similar for separate evaluations of colon and rectal cancer.Conclusions: We observed no evidence of an association between antidepressant use, overall or by therapeutic class, and colorectal cancer risk.Impact: These results suggest that antidepressants may not be useful as chemopreventive agents for colorectal cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev; 27(8); 892-8. ©2018 AACR.

Authors: Kiridly-Calderbank JF; Sturgeon SR; Kroenke CH; Reeves KW

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2018 08;27(8):892-898. Epub 2018-05-22.

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