A type of cancer that affects around 4% of men in the US during their lifetime, colon cancer is one of the deadliest cancers around. For that reason, scientists are always on the lookout for new treatment and prevention options that could help us better understand and treat this condition. One of those treatments comes from an unexpected source – Viagra.
So, what is the connection between Viagra and colon cancer?
Viagra and Colon Cancer Research
According to a 2017 study published in the Cancer Prevention Research journal, sildenafil could be used to significantly reduce our risk of colon cancer. Marketed as the popular drug Viagra, sildenafil is commonly used to treat symptoms of erectile dysfunction.
To test these claims, the scientists used genetically modified mice that had developed hundreds of polyps – abnormal growths that play an important role in colon cancer. They then added sildenafil to their drinking water and observed the results. The researchers found that small daily doses of this drug could reduce the number of colorectal tumors by 50%.
How Does It Work?
The way that sildenafil works is by releasing a substance that affects the intestinal epithelium – the cells on the inside of our intestine that create a membrane against bacteria and foreign substances. The epithelium plays a crucial role in our immune response and gets inflamed in conditions like inflammatory bowel disease.
The Bottom Line
Although more research is needed to confirm these findings, the link between Viagra and colon cancer seems encouraging. Human trials are the logical next step, especially since Viagra is already an FDA-approved drug that is unlikely to cause unexpected side effects.