Harvard Women's Health Watch

By the way, doctor: Does Paxil cause breast cancer?

Q. I heard there's a relationship between Paxil and breast cancer risk. Is this true?

A. The short answer to your question is no: The available research does not show that Paxil (paroxetine) raises the risk of breast cancer. The story of how researchers have addressed this question illustrates how medical knowledge advances.

Paxil is one of a class of antidepressant drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), the best known of which is fluoxetine (Prozac). Some SSRIs have also been shown to reduce hot flashes, and are an alternative for postmenopausal women who would like to avoid hormone therapy, which increases breast cancer risk. But they can also increase levels of prolactin, a hormone that stimulates the growth of certain breast cells, so there's been some concern they might increase breast cancer risk.

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