Menopausal women who take a class of commonly prescribed antidepressants are more likely to break a bone compared to women who did not take the drugs, according to a new study published in the British Medical Journal.
Menopause can cause a host of symptoms from hot flashes and mood changes including depression. They are also prone to osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to become weak and brittle to the point that a fall or even mild stresses like bending over or coughing can cause a fracture.
To treat mood symptoms associated with menopause, some doctors have turned to a popular class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. These drugs include the brand names Zoloft, Paxil, Lexapro, Celexa and Prozac.
Previous research has shown that SSRIs may weaken bones, but researchers from Northeastern University in Boston set out to better understand this risk. They analyzed data from 370,000 menopausal women over a 12-year period. About 137,000 women in this group took some type of SSRI, and another 236,000 took indigestion medications.
Researchers found that the woman who took SSRIs had a 76 percent high rate of bone fracture after starting treatment, a 73 percent higher rate after two years, and a 67 percent higher rate after five years, indicating that there was not only a greater risk of fracture in SSRI users, but that risk remained after years of treatment.
Researchers say that the findings are purely based on statistics so no definitive conclusions can be drawn in regard to cause and effect. But they said the findings suggest that a shorter duration of treatment may help decrease the risk of fracture.
Source: The New Zealand Herald