June 22, 2005

Antipsychotic Linked to Tumors

Risperidone is an antipsychotic used to treat bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and other psychological disorders. Unfortunately, researchers have been finding some (relatively minor, in the grand scheme of things) health results. It appears that Risperidone is linked to a higher rate of benign tumors (benign in this case, means insigificant from a health standpoint) in the pituitary gland and other health problems, in comparison to others taking similar drugs. It appears to be an uncommon occurrence but the side effects still need to be validated by other research studies.

Many of those who grew tumors while taking Risperidone were taking other drugs at the same time, so there still needs to be a controlled study before these side effects can be blamed solely on Risperidone. Researchers currently looked at reports of adverse drug reactions from consumers. There were 64 reports of tumors in the pituitary gland that happened while the patients were taking antipsychotic medications. 48 of the reports came from people that were specifically taking Risperidone.

"The FDA said it began investigating the issue after receiving reports associating antipsychotic drugs with pituitary tumors and increased secretion of prolactin, a pituitary hormone that mainly regulates breast milk production and preparing the body for pregnancy. Reports also indicated abnormal secretion of breast milk in some patients, which can be caused by increased production of the hormone.

Antipsychotic drugs are known to block dopamine, a chemical neurotransmitter in the brain that acts as a brake on the secretion of prolactin. Studies in mice have suggested that treating them with Risperdal or other antipsychotics can result in tumor growth" (Fahy, 2005).

The findings have not accounted for several things, for example, that certain antipsychotic medications have been available to the public for a longer amount of time. It is being encouraged for anyone taking antipsychotics to go get medical treatment if they start to secrete milk abnormally. An MRI scan can determine if one has a tumor in the pituitary gland.

The source of this article was the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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