Could Treating Erection Problems Protect Against Colorectal Cancer?

Preliminary studies by Chinese researchers indicate that sildenafil citrate, the active ingredient in Viagra, could help to prevent the spread of colorectal cancer. Testing so far has been confined to laboratory and animal studies.

Men who regularly take Viagra — or sildenafil citrate, its generic equivalent — to treat their erection problems may also be significantly reducing their risk of developing colorectal cancer, according to the findings of a study. One of the leading causes of cancer death in Americans, colorectal cancer is expected to account for roughly 50,600 deaths in 2018, based on data from the American Cancer Society.

A team of Chinese researchers explored the effects of sildenafil on human colorectal cancer cells in both laboratory and live animal testing. The team’s findings were published in a late 2015 issue of the American Journal of Cancer Research.

Sildenafil Inhibited Cancer Spread

Human colorectal cancer cells in laboratory vessels were treated with small amounts of sildenafil citrate. Tests showed that sildenafil

  •  significantly inhibited the growth of cancer cells,
  •  prevented their spread by interfering with the normal cell cycle, and
  •  also caused the death of some cancer cells.

Similar results were observed when laboratory mice grafted with human colorectal cancer cells were treated with the erectile dysfunction drug.

The ACS reports that 4.49 percent of American men will develop colorectal cancer at some point in their lifetime, while 4.15 percent of U.S. women will be diagnosed with this form of cancer. Risk factors include a personal history of colorectal polyps or inflammatory bowel disease, as well as a family history of colorectal polyps or cancer.

 Four modifiable lifestyle-related behaviors that can lead to colorectal cancer are smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, a diet high in red meats, and obesity.

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