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Viagra Could Significantly Cut The Risk Of Colorectal Cancer 2018-03-23
If Viagra and butts make you giggle, then find yourself a quiet place to read this article: We’re about to talk about both, and the reason may surprise you. Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University say a small, daily dose of the little blue pill may reduce one's risk of colorectal cancer, which, believe it or not, is the third leading cause of cancer death in the US.
Don’t go running to the pharmacy just yet: This study was done on mice genetically predetermined to have colorectal cancer. Nonetheless, researchers say with clinical testing, it could have the potential to prevent colorectal cancer.
Sold as the brand name Viagra, sildenafil works by inhibiting the enzyme phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) to relax the muscle cells around blood vessels, allowing them to more easily fill with blood. It's true that heightened blood flow is mostly associated with the bedroom, but sildenafil is also known to help treat a number of ailments outside of the pants, including pulmonary hypertension, altitude sickness, Raynaud’s phenomenon, sexual issues associated with antidepressants, and even in treatments for premature infants with severe respiratory failure.
Colorectal cancer usually begins as an abnormal clump of cells, called a “polyp”, found on the intestinal lining. These little masses can become cancerous, and are often without symptoms. By placing Viagra in the drinking water of mice that had colitis (an inflammation of the colon and a risk factor for colorectal cancer), researchers found that the drug can cut the formation of polyps in half. PDE5 works by breaking down cyclic GMP, a chemical known to affect the intestinal lining, so there is more of it to go around.
"Giving a baby dose of Viagra can reduce the amount of tumors in these animals by half," said Dr Darren Browning, cancer researcher, in a statement.
But just how it works, the researchers aren’t sure. What they do know is that increased cyclic GMP appears to suppress some of the excessive cell proliferation in the gut and causes an increase in normal cell differentiation – the process whereby a cell changes from one type to another. It also naturally kills off harmful cells, a process called apoptosis. Treatment didn't remove existing polyps and researchers say targeting cyclic GMP could be a good prevention strategy in high-risk patients.
The prescription drug linaclotide, which is used to treat constipation and irritable bowel syndrome, had similar effects to Viagra, but comes with diarrhea. Browning says it would probably make treatment intolerable for patients.