[Posted: Sat 13/09/2008 by Olivia Fens]
Antidepressants can help the human body fight cancer by boosting its own immune response, a new study indicates.
The US research also found that antidepressants could help with chemotherapy side-effects such as aiding sleep, stimulating appetite, combating pain and avoiding depression.
Antidepressants could also reduce the severity and frequency of hot flushes in patients treated with chemotherapy and may even stop chemotherapy-induced vomiting, the study found.
Antidepressants work by affecting levels of chemicals in the brain known as prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are responsible for both cell function and dysfunction.
The researchers found that by inhibiting prostaglandins, a cancer could actually be ‘shut down’. However, adjusting prostaglandins could also accelerate cancer.
The researchers said in their findings, published in the journal ecancer, that antidepressants “had the potential to arrest, prevent, reverse and palliate cancer”.
But as some patient’s response to antidepressants was cancer acceleration close clinical observation must be maintained and limited drug trial duration was essential.