Does use of tetracyclic antidepressant-mirtazapine reduce cancer risk in depression patients?

Li Min Sun, Ming Chia Lin, Ji An Liang, Yen Jung Chang, Shih Ni Chang, Fung Chang Sung, Chih Hsin Muo, Chia Hung Kao*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: We conducted a nested case-control study to evaluate the association between risk of cancer and mirtazapine use in depression patients in Taiwan. Methods: We obtained data from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database to conduct a population-based nested case-control study. The study cohort included 16897 patients diagnosed with depression between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2008. We identified 530 cancer patients as the study group and matched 4 non-cancer subjects with each cancer patient by incident density, age, and sex. Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were estimated using multivariate conditional logistic regression analysis. Results: Use of mirtazapine for depression did not have significant effect on overall cancer incidence (odds ratio: 1.03, 95% confidence interval: 0.72-1.48). Further analysis of annual mirtazapine dosages and the duration of mirtazapine use revealed no significant effect on cancer risk. Conclusion: The findings of this population-based nested case-control study suggest that mirtazapine use may not provide a tumor suppression effect in humans such as that seen in the animal model. Future large-scale and in-depth investigations in this area are warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1292-1297
Number of pages6
JournalPharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Dec
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • Mirtazapine
  • Nested case-control study
  • Pharmacoepidemiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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