The Two Sides of Prozac

One of the toughest challenges I face when reporting about medical research comes at the very beginning – when I determine whether to even cover the study. The science may be solid, the researchers reputable. But often, the findings are contradicted in other studies.

Take for example Prozac.

I heard neurologist Russell Fernald from Stanford University talk about brain science today. When he was talking about neurotransmitters, he mentioned Prozac – a drug commonly used to treat depression. He said that a lot of doctors are still unaware that Prozac could cause bone loss, leading to bone injuries and even osteoporosis in children and adolescents.

Intrigued, I found a study linking Prozac to bone loss: Antidepressants Linked To Bone Loss, Study Suggests.

But I also found this: Commonly Used Antidepressants May Prevent Bone Loss.

The possible side effect of bone loss is not mentioned on the NIH website for Prozac.

So which is it?

Science, I am often told, is a process. And uncertainty is an inherent quality in medical research.

But is it the duty of journalists to report new medical research, even if it’s refuted elsewhere? []