As many of you migraine sufferers are aware, headache specialists routinely prescribe antidepressants when treating migraines.
Migraine sufferers will do just about anything to get relief from the terrible pain they get during a migraine episode. When a doctor prescribes a medication for you, you are supposed to have faith in them and realize that they are very well educated and know what they are doing. However, do you know what these medications are doing to your body? Do you understand the risks involved in taking certain medications? There are usually risks involved with any med. You have to compare the risks and the benefits and you should always do your due diligence!
The potential dangers of SSRIs are pretty commonly known, but did you know that researchers believe that the use of these meds could potentially promote breast cancer? The fact is that both migraine and depression effects a lot more women than men. Women in their 40s and 50s with a family history of breast cancer are the most at risk and that just happens to coincide with a huge population of people on these medications! By no means am I trying to say that nobody should take SSRIs. Like any treatment, you have to weigh the benefits against the risks and talk to your doctor about any concerns. It is obvious that the FDA approves these medications for certain uses without concern of potential dangers, so we certainly can’t rely on them to look out for our best interest. The FDA has all the information available to them, why do they choose to put us at an unnecessary risk? The answer is simple: The FDA is largely funded by pharmaceutical companies… Talk about a conflict of interest!!
According to an article published on the Alliance for Natural Health USA’s website entitled “Popular Antidepressant May Promote Breast Cancer” (see the article http://www.anh-usa.org/popular-antidepressant-may-promote-breast-cancer/) 70% of breast cancers are sensitive to estrogen. Researchers believe that they may have found that paroxetine (an active ingredient in both popular antidepressants Pexeva and Paxil) effects the estrogen in the body and likely promotes the growth of tumors in the breasts. Women are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression than men. Women also make up 2/3 of the population of migraine sufferers. This is something you need to know and consider if you are being proscribed an SSRI, in particular one with paroxetine.
The issue with paroxetine is not it’s use in depression or migraines. It has a specific use and patients should be informed of the risks. But, here is the crazy thing about paroxetine: In 2013, the FDA approved it as a treatment for hot flashes and symptoms of menopause. This treatment was approved despite the FDA’s Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee voting against approval with an overwhelming 10-4 vote. They attempted to shoot down the approval because it was felt that the potential side effects associated with SSRIs outweighed the minor benefits in this scenario. The FDA attributed the decision to approve this treatment as an opportunity to provide women with an alternative to synthetic hormone replacement therapy because synthetic therapy has been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer as well as heart disease.
So, let’s get this straight: The FDA knowingly approved a drug that may potentially contribute to breast cancer, for use in the population most likely to be at risk of breast cancer, in the hopes that it will reduce hot flashes??? Hot flashes are not life threatening… why would anyone put a patient at risk of breast cancer to treat hot flashes? My question is this: What the #@%& is the FDA doing? Does this even make sense to anyone? Why the blatant disregard to the potential dangers of using this medication in this particular population of patients?
In terms of considering safety first, the FDA ignored approval of natural bioidentical estriol, which is a much safer alternative treatment option for post-menopausal symptoms. Why are they ignoring the use of natural supplements? Also, in the available medical literature, there are over 800 references showing the effectiveness of Vitamin D against cancer. In an issue of Anticancer Research published in March of this year, a meta-analysis of 5 studies showed that patients who were diagnosed with breast cancer and had high vitamin D levels were TWICE as likely to survive compared to women with low vitamin D levels. So again, why are we not doing more research using natural remedies such as herbs, vitamins, and antioxidants? The short answer is $$$. No money for funding research because pharma companies cannot get their greedy hands on patents for supplements. Also, if supplements were found to help certain conditions, then pharma companies would stand to lose out on profits because many people may choose to use supplements with little side effects as opposed to prescription meds with many side effects.
Unfortunately for us, the Food and Drug Administration does not seem to approve medications for use with safety as their first priority. Pharmaceutical companies rake in huge profits and it hard to believe that “Big Pharma” does not have an influence over the Food and Drug Administration and their decisions to approve specific treatments or not. SSRIs are commonly used for both depression and migraine, which coincidentally have a large population of patients that are at a high risk for breast cancer. This is simply a potential risk for patients looking to treat these two particular conditions with this class of meds. However, in the case of Brisdelle being approved for hot flashes: In my opinion, it is completely irresponsible for the FDA to blatantly disregard safety and approve paroxetine (Brisdelle) as a treatment for hot flashes and menopausal symptoms. As patients, the only thing we can do is educate ourselves so that we are aware of these risks. The FDA should be looking out for the people of this country not putting millions of patients at further risk for serious health complications. This is just another example of the inexcusable greed and corruption involved in our broken health care system. If you are taking these medications, you should be aware and bring up these concerns to your doctor. Your health may depend on it!