Daily Dose of Viagra May Reduce Colon Cancer Risk

By Sylvia Booth Hubbard – Re-Blogged From Newsmax Health

A small daily dose of Viagra reduces the risk of colorectal cancer in mice genetically modified to have the disease. Viagra reduced the formation of polyps by 50 percent, according to a study performed at Augusta University’s Medical College of Georgia.

Polyps are abnormal clumps of cells on the lining of the intestines that may become cancer. Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.

While Viagra is primarily thought of as a drug to treat erectile dysfunction, it has been safely used for years to treat a variety of conditions, including pulmonary hypertension and problems related to premature birth, in a wide range of doses and age groups.

Cancer researcher Dr. Darren D. Browning and his team placed Viagra in the drinking water of baby mice with the genetic mutation — which also occurs in humans. Under normal circumstances, the mice begin to produce hundreds of polyps starting as adolescents, and they almost always resulted in colorectal cancer. But giving mice Viagra cut the risk in half.

 Viagra relaxes the smooth muscle cells around blood vessels so the vessels can more easily fill with blood, which is how it helps both erectile dysfunction and pulmonary hypertension. But Browning’s research shows it also increases levels of the chemical cyclic GMP, which is known to affect the intestinal lining, called the epithelium.

Increased cyclic GMP appears to suppress some of the excessive cell proliferation that occurs in the gut and increases the natural elimination of abnormal cells.

In an area of the body that normally has high cell proliferation and a high turnover of cells, Browning said, “When we give Viagra, we shrink the whole proliferating compartment. Proliferating cells are more subject to mutations that cause cancer.”

 Existing polyps were not affected, suggesting that targeting cyclic GMP signaling appears to be a good prevention strategy in high-risk patients, he says.

Browning hopes clinical trials will be conducted in the future in patients considered at high risk of colorectal cancer, such as those with a family history of the disease, previous multiple polyps, and chronic intestinal inflammation like colitis.

 The study was published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.

Several studies have found that Viagra has a protective effect on the heart. Researchers at the U.K.’s University of Manchester found that diabetic patients who took Viagra had a lower risk of suffering a heart attack or dying from heart failure than those who didn’t take the drug. A 2014 study published in the journal BMC Medicine found that Viagra can prevent heart muscle from thickening, as well as early stage heart failure.

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