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Viagra to Prevent Colorectal Cancer

Viagra to Prevent Colorectal Cancer

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Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in the United States. One in twenty-two men and one in twenty-four women will likely develop it at some point. One million people are diagnosed annually and fifty thousand people die from it each year. Odds are improving because of better screening processes, but until there’s a cure, the scientific community will continue to look for every possible advantage against this often-deadly diagnosis.

Most colorectal cancers start as polyps. These are abnormal clumps of cells that have the potential to become cancerous. Colorectal polyps fall into two main categories. The first type is adenomatous (adenomas), which are considered “pre-cancerous” and account for ninety-six percent of colorectal cancers. This type of cancer grows in the cells that form glands, which make the mucus that lubricates the colon and the rectum. The other is hyperplastic/inflammatory polyps, which are much more common and generally benign.

Just this month, a common prescription drug was found to have a dramatic effect on animal models genetically designed to have a high incidence of rectal cancer. Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University discovered that Viagra (a drug that is commonly used for erectile dysfunction and to treat premature infants with pulmonary hypertension) has a fairly dramatic effect on polyp development in mice.

Viagra works by relaxing smooth muscle cells around blood vessels so that they can fill with blood more easily. It also increases levels of a chemical called cGMP, which is an intracellular calcium regulator that has been shown to regulate homeostasis of the intestinal epithelium (the layer of cells in the intestine that forms a physical barrier against foreign substances and bacteria). The epithelium plays an important role in how the immune system responds to foreign agents.

In the study published this month in Cancer Prevention Research, scientists dosed the water of the mice with a small amount of Viagra and found that it reduced polyp formation by fifty percent! Production of cGMP was increased, which seemed to suppress cell proliferation. Proliferating cells are more vulnerable to mutations that cause cancer. It also seemed to help with the natural process of abnormal cell death and elimination. Human trials are on the horizon, and because Viagra has virtually zero negative side effects, it may prove a great option for staving off a particularly lethal form of cancer.

Sources:
Scotti, Ariel, “Daily Doses of Viagra Could ‘Significantly Reduce’ Cancer Risk,” New York Daily News, March 21, 2018, http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/daily-doses-viagra-significantly-reduce-cancer-risk-article-1.3888325
Sandoiu, Ana, “Viagra May Cut Colorectal Cancer Risk By Half,” Medical News Today, March 21, 2018, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321278.php
A Small, Daily Dose of Viagra May Reduce Colorectal Cancer Risk,” Science Daily, March 19, 2018, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180319090653.htm
Colorectal Cancer,https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer.html
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Michelle Poe Posted by Michelle Poe, a writer for DrDrew.com. Enjoy posts from guests and experts on life’s important topics. This website is for informational and/or entertainment purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
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