Commonly prescribed antidepressants called SSRIs are linked to fractures in older women.
These drugs have become popular to treat the menopausal symptoms of hot flashes and night sweats. That’s because they do not carry the same risks of breast cancer and heart disease as hormone replacement therapy.
Paroxetine, sold originally as Paxil, is now also prescribed as Brisdelle to ease symptoms of menopause. But other SSRI-type drugs are being prescribed off label for the same purpose.
The Study Included Thousands of Women Taking SSRIs for Hot Flashes
Epidemiologists have compared women taking these non-hormonal drugs to women taking heartburn medicines such as cimetidine or omeprazole. All of the women in the study were between 40 and 64 and were not depressed.
There were 137,000 who started taking SSRIs for hot flashes. They included citalopram, known as Celexa, escitalopram, known as Lexapro, fluoxetine, better known as Prozac and sertraline, sometimes prescribed under the brand name Zoloft. More than 236,000 were taking the heartburn medicines.
Those on SSRIs for hot flashes suffered 76 percent more fractures during the first year, and 67 percent more fractures over a five-year period.
Since women’s risk of fracture begins to rise dramatically at menopause, it is worrisome to think many women might be taking a drug that could increase this danger even more. This also raises questions about the overall safety of SSRI-type drugs for people being treated for depression.