Viagra may help prevent colon cancer

Viagra may help prevent colon cancer
A popular drug used to treat erectile dysfunction may be used other ways in the field of medicine. (Source: Pixabay images)

WSFA/NBC - A popular drug used to treat erectile dysfunction may be used other ways in the field of medicine. After doing some testing on mice it looks like it may reduce the risk of colon cancer.

"The effect on colon cancer prevention of these drugs is really exciting and we can't wait to get into patients in a clinical trial," said Dr. Darren Browning with the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.

These findings come after a decade of research. When tested in mice, a small dose of the active ingredient in Viagra cuts the formation of polyps by half. These abnormal clumps of cells in the lining of the intestines can become cancer.

"We all in the United States have a relatively high risk," Browning said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says colorectal cancer is the third most common form for American men and women.

"Our risk of developing the disease ourselves is about one in twenty for men. A little bit higher, one in twenty-five for women," Browning said.

So the next step, a few years from now, a clinical trial for patients who are at high risk of developing colon cancer. Researchers say a small dose of Viagra may be their saving grace.

"Everyone knows its use for erectile dysfunction but it is also widely prescribed for pulmonary arterial hypertension as well and they even give it to newborn babies that have this disease.  They can take it daily for many years without side effects," Browning said.

Doctors say these findings may help with new ways to protect against other diseases and disorders affecting the gastrointestinal tract.

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