Review Shows No Link Between Antihistamines and Breast Cancer

August 28, 2003, Ontario, Canada -A new study has reassuring news for women who use antihistamines; women who use the medications are no more likely than those who don't to develop breast cancer according to investigations by Cancer Care Ontario, Canada.

"Antihistamines are structurally similar to...a tamoxifen derivative known to promote tumor growth, and to antidepressants," Dr. Victoria Nadalin, of Cancer Care Ontario and associates explain in the International Journal of Cancer. Nadalin notes, "Animal experiments have linked certain antihistamines and antidepressants with enhanced tumor growth in mice."

To investigate this possibility in a human population, the researchers used the Ontario Cancer Registry to identify 3133 women diagnosed with breast cancer between 1996 and 1998. They were compared with a control group of 3062 age-matched women without breast cancer.

All participants completed a questionnaire on the type of antihistamines they used regularly, and for how long. About 16 percent of the women in both groups had used antihistamines for some period in their lives.

Those who used antihistamines did not have an increased risk for breast cancer, Nadalin's team found. The risk didn't change with the age at which antihistamines were first used, or with the duration of use, or whether the woman had reached menopause or not.

"In light of these results, it is unlikely that antihistamine use increases the risk for breast cancer," the investigators conclude.

Source: International Journal of Cancer

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