Three antidepressants commonly used to treat the anxiety and depression that accompany a diagnosis of breast cancer negate the protective effect of tamoxifen, a drug widely used to fight breast cancer, reports the June issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter.
The most common type of breast cancer is fueled by the female hormone estrogen. Tamoxifen has become a standard treatment for women with such estrogen-positive breast cancer because it reduces the chances that breast cancer will recur and improves survival. Three antidepressants—paroxetine (Paxil), fluoxetine (Prozac), and bupropion (Wellbutrin)—should be avoided while taking tamoxifen because they may interfere with its anticancer effects. These antidepressants are also used to treat hot flashes and aid with smoking cessation.
Other antidepressants are less likely to interfere with tamoxifen, notes Dr. Michael Miller, editor in chief of the Harvard Mental Health Letter. Better options for women taking tamoxifen include venlafaxine (Effexor), desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), and mirtazapine (Remeron).
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