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Anti-depressant drug may affect fertility, says study

Antidepressant drugs taken by tens of thousands of British men may damage sperm quality and harm fertility, researchers at the Cornell Medical Centre in New York have found.

The doctors examined the effects of paroxetine paroxetine /par·ox·e·tine/ (pah-rok´se-ten) a selective serotonin uptake inhibitor used as the hydrochloride salt to treat depression and obsessive-compulsive, panic, and social anxiety disorders.  (Seroxat) on men taking the drug over five weeks. Four weeks into the trial, tests revealed the men had sperm showing more than twice as much genetic damage as at the start of the study.

The findings remain tentative but pose a problem for GPs, who fear patients benefiting from anti-depressants may stop taking the drugs. NHS NHS
National Health Service

NHS (in Britain) National Health Service
 figures show that during 2006 GPs in Britain wrote nearly 2m prescriptions for paroxetine and the brand Seroxat.

The research team, led by Professor Peter Schlegel, showed that the amount of genetic fragmentation in sperm rose from an average of 13.8% before the trial to 30.3% after a month of the drug. The trial results will be presented in November at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in San Francisco.

Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) was founded in 1952 in London, England. It is a registered charity that aims to maintain the highest standards of general medical practice in education, training and research in the UK. , said the results should not cause alarm: "Patients shouldn't stop their antidepressants, but those who are depressed and experiencing fertility difficulties may wish to discuss this with their GP."

Two years ago the same researchers reported that the antidepressants citalopram citalopram /ci·tal·o·pram/ (si-tal´o-pram)
1. an antidepressant compound used in the treatment of major depressive disorder, administered orally as the hydrobromide.

 (Cipramil) and sertraline sertraline /ser·tra·line/ (ser´trah-len) a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor used as the hydrochloride salt in the treatment of depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and panic disorder.  (Lustral Lustral® Sertraline, see there ) reduced sperm counts in men, although the counts returned to healthy levels after the medication was stopped.

According to New Scientist magazine, Schlegel believes some men who take paroxetine may have lower fertility because of it. Other scientists claim there is too little evidence to be sure. Allan Pacey, a lecturer in andrology at Sheffield University, said: "It's unclear what level of DNA DNA: see nucleic acid.
 or deoxyribonucleic acid

One of two types of nucleic acid (the other is RNA); a complex organic compound found in all living cells and many viruses. It is the chemical substance of genes.
 damage causes a real problem for men."

Jane Morgan, a spokeswoman for GlaxoSmithKline, which markets Seroxat, said it would review the findings.
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Date:Sep 25, 2008
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