World Bulletin / News Desk
People using a common class of antidepressants may have slightly increased odds of suffering bleeding in the brain - though the risk is still very small, according to a Canadian study looking at more than 500,000 people.
The antidepressants are known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and include widely used drugs like fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), citalopram (Celexa) and paroxetine (Paxil.)
The SSRIs have been linked to a risk of stomach bleeding, but studies have come to conflicting findings on whether SSRI users have any higher risk of hemorrhagic strokes, which happen when there is bleeding in or around the brain.
For the study, which appeared in the journal Neurology, researchers pooled the findings from 16 past studies involving more than 500,000 people who were on SSRIs or not.
Overall, antidepressant users were about 40 to 50 percent more likely to suffer bleeding in or around the brain.
But while those numbers might sound big, the risks to any one person would be "extremely low," said lead researcher Daniel Hackam, an associate professor of medicine at Western University in London, Ontario, Canada.
Based on these figures, he said, there would be one brain hemorrhage for every 10,000 people using an SSRI over one year.
What's more, the findings do not prove that the antidepressants directly cause brain bleeds. It's possible, Hackham said, that SSRI users are "sicker" than non-users or have habits that put them at greater stroke risk.
The researchers tried to account for those factors in their calculations, but some of the studies they analyzed lacked key information, such as peoples's smoking and drinking habits, and whether they had diabetes.
"We can't infer cause and effect from this," Hackam said.
On the other hand, there are reasons to believe it's the medications themselves. For one, the hemorrhage risk seemed greatest in the first months after people started using an SSRI.
There's also a biological argument. SSRIs seem to make it harder for blood cells called platelets to clump together and form clots - and there can be a big drop in a person's platelet functions in the first weeks after starting an SSRI, he said.
Still, he stressed that people on the antidepressants should not be alarmed.
"I think that overall, these medications are quite safe," he added.
But people who are already at increased risk of a brain hemorrhage may need to be careful. That includes people who have had a brain bleed in the past, or are on medications that reduce blood clotting.
In an interview Hollywood actor Jean Claude Van Damme has stated that he favoured Arabic food and that the diet followed by the Prophet Muhammad was one that was best for the human body
El Nino has devastated Mozambique's Gorongosa park with political tensions threatening the park
Cupping therapy is an ancient form of alternative medicine in which a therapist puts special cups on skin for a few minutes to create suction, the therapy itself dates back to the time of the Prophet Muhammad.
The Earth has hit a record high with an overall globel temperature the highest ever on record
The National Institute of Health may fund research into mixed embryos to better understand human diseases and develop therapies to treat them.
Travel across multiple time zones disrupts circadian rhythms resulting in jet lag
After five years the radiation levels in the Pacific Ocean are close to normal levels after a nuclear meltdown in the city
A trilateral pledge will see a jump from the current collective clean power levels of about 37% to 50% by 2025
Around 6.5 million deaths globally are attributed each year to poor air quality inside and outside, making it the world's fourth-largest threat to human health, behind high blood pressure, dietary risks and smoking
New World Drug Report research identifies heroin as deadliest drug
Zika has caused alarm throughout the Americas since cases of the birth defect microcephaly were reported in Brazil, the country hardest hit by the outbreak
Philadelphia has become the first big city in the US to place a tax on soda to tackle the obesity crisis
Average global temperatures startlingly higher than normal between March-May
Government study provides strongest evidence of cell phone health effects
The reason for the high-level threat in the area is the presence there of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which carry the Zika virus that health authorities say causes birth defects in newborns