Fish on Prozac become angry, aggressive and KILL their mates, new study finds

Daily Mail

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee found that minnows administered Prozac became aggressive, anti-social and sometimes homicidal.
But why put a fish on Prozac? It’s not a fix for sad fish – rather, human medications are ending up in waterways and creating ecological effects scientists are only just beginning to research.

Anti-depressant drugs are the most commonly prescribed drugs in the U.S. –  about 250 million prescriptions are filled every year. They’re also the most-documented drugs contaminating waterways.

Traces of the drugs typically get into the water when people excrete them. Sewage treatment plants discharge the filtered effluent, but most aren’t equipped to filter out the drugs.

The scientists wanted to study the effects of this drug exposure, and chose the fathead minnow, a fish common fish in Midwest waterways, as their subject.
Rebecca Klaper, an ecologist at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Great Lakes Water Institute, presented results of the study at the meeting of the North American division of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry in Long Beach, California.

Fathead minnows usually display complex mating behavior, with males building the nests where females comes to lay their eggs. After they’re laid, the males fertilize them and keep watch, cleaning away fungus and dead eggs.

Klaper said that the fluoxetine, the active ingredient in Prozac, was given in very low concentrations – 1 part per billion – which is the same as that found in waste water discharged into waterways.

The male of the species spent more time hiding alone, hunting and ignoring females.

Female fathead minnows seem to be unaffected by the chemical except for producing fewer eggs.

When the concentration of fluoxetine was increased to the highest levels found in waterways, male minnows started to spend more time building their nests.
Scientists increased the dose tenfold, in an effort to see what might happen in our waterways in the future, and the males ‘become obsessive, to the point they’re ignoring the females’, Klaper said.



When fluoxetine concentrations are increased again, fathead minnows stop reproducing all together and turn violent: ‘The males start killing the females,’ said Klaper.

Strangely, if the females are introduced a month after the males are exposed to the chemical, the males don’t show aggressive behavior towards them – but the females still don’t lay any eggs.
The research has shown that exposure to the drug can alter the genes responsible for building fish brains and controlling their behavior.

The drugs seem to cause these changes in behavior by scrambling how genes in the fishes’ brains are turned on and off. The minnows were exposed when they were a couple of months old and still developing.



Klaper said there appeared to be ‘architectural’ changes to the young minnows’ brains.

‘At high doses we expect brain changes,’ Klaper told the conference. ‘But we saw the gene expression changes and then behavioral changes at doses that we consider environmentally relevant.’

These new findings build on Klaper’s previous research, which tested minnows exposed to the drug to see how they dealt with predators. The fish swam longer distances and made more directional changes, which suggests that the drugs induced anxiety.

It is unclear whether any of these effects are being felt by wild fish populations, but Klaper said that any changes in reproduction, eating and avoiding prey can have devastating impacts for fish populations.
The most vulnerable fish populations are those downstream of sewage treatment plants, where prescription drugs consistently show up in higher levels than in other waterways.

Steve Carr, supervisor of the chemistry research group at the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts told Environmental Health News that in the past decade technology has allowed plants to test for chemicals in their waste water and in waters downstream – but most don’t.

Studies have shown that drugs can build up in some fishes’ systems, meaning the drug levels could accumulate in fish the longer they are exposed to even low concentrations.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers pharmaceuticals an ’emerging concern,’ and that chemicals from prescription drugs may pose risks to wildlife and humans, but there are no federal regulations in place as yet. 
While traces of prescription drugs in drinking water is ‘unlikely to pose risks to human health’ according to the World Health Organization, we are discovering that the effects on wildlife could be serious.

‘Fish do not metabolize drugs like we do,’ Klaper said.
‘Even if environmental doses aren’t thought to be much for a human, fish could still have significant accumulation, and, it appears, changes in their brain’s gene expression.’

Prozac pregnancy alert: Mothers-to-be on anti-depressants are putting babies at risk, warn scientists

Daily Mail

Thousands of women who take anti-depressants during pregnancy are endangering their unborn babies, researchers have warned.

The widely prescribed pills have been found drastically to raise the odds of miscarriages, premature birth, autism and life-threatening high blood pressure, they say.

Harvard researchers believe far too many women are taking the drugs during pregnancy because their GPs are not aware of the dangers.

They also suspect that drug companies are trying to play down the risks because anti-depressants are so lucrative to them.
They focused on the complications linked to a group of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which include Prozac and Seroxat.

Between 2 and 3 per cent of pregnant women in the UK are thought to be on these drugs – up to 19,500 every year.
But the researchers have found that they increase the risk of a miscarriage by 17 per cent and more than double the likelihood of pre-eclampsia – high blood pressure during pregnancy – which can be fatal.

They also double the chances of the baby being born premature, or developing autism.

In addition, the researchers say, the babies are more likely to suffer from heart defects and problems with their bowels.
SSRIs treat depression by boosting the level of the ‘happy hormone’ serotonin in the brain. But the researchers believe that serotonin is also getting into the womb and harming the development of the foetus’s brain, lungs, heart and digestive system.

Dr Adam Urato, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Tufts University School of Medicine, in Boston, who was involved in the study, said: ‘I am absolutely concerned – very concerned.

‘We are witnessing a large-scale human experiment. Never before have we chemically altered human foetal development on such a large scale.

‘And my concern is why I am trying to get the word out to patients, health care providers, and the public.’
Dr Alice Domar, assistant professor in obstetrics, gynaecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School, said there was little evidence the pills effectively treated depression.

She said GPs were handing out prescriptions for the drugs even though depression could be far better treated through exercise, talking therapies and even yoga.

‘These are probably not particularly safe medicines to take during pregnancy,’ she said. ‘We’re not saying that every pregnant woman should go off her medication.

‘Obviously you don’t want a pregnant woman to attempt suicide.’

The researchers, who presented their findings to the annual conference of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in San Diego, California, have analysed more than 100 existing studies looking at the risks of SSRIs.

Their findings are due to be published next week in the respected journal Human Reproduction.

The researchers say that if women take the pills when they are trying for a baby but come off as soon as they find out they are pregnant, it may be too late.

Dr Urato added: ‘Many of the experts in this area receive funding from the anti-depressant majors. These experts continue to downplay the risks of these agents and to promote the benefits of their use in pregnancy.’

A spokesman for the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry said: ‘Clinical decisions about the treatment of depression are complex and must be made by clinicians in consultation with individual patients, regardless of whether or not they are pregnant.’

More than 1 in 10 Americans on Suicide-Linked Antidepressants

Activist Post, Oct. 20, 2011

Despite evidence linking popular antidepressants like Prozac to suicide more than 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 12 are now taking antidepressants prescribed by their doctors. In fact, antidepressants are now the most common drug among people aged 18 to 44, according to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

Even more notable is the fact that once prescribed, individuals generally keep taking antidepressants for years. Over 60 percent of patients prescribed antidepressants report taking them for more than 2 years, and 14 percent for 10 years or more. This is unfortunate when the drugs meant to help depression actually cause further depression.

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Antidepressants linked to thicker arteries

Science Blog, Apr. 3, 2011

Antidepressant use has been linked to thicker arteries, possibly contributing to the risk of heart disease and stroke, in a study of twin veterans. The data is being presented Tuesday, April 5 at the American College of Cardiology meeting in New Orleans.

“I think we have to keep an open mind about the effects of antidepressants on neurochemicals like serotonin in places outside the brain, such as the vasculature.”

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