Erectile dysfunction affects upwards of 52% of men, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Drugs that treat ED such as Viagra, and generic versions like sildenafil, are widely available despite their high costs. For most men, the price is worth it. But what if these drugs could do more than just treat ED symptoms? A new study published in the journal Oncolmmunology shows that these medications may be able to prevent the return of cancer after a tumor removal.
A recent Medical News Today article stated, “These drugs, aided by the flu vaccine, remove a block to the immune system that can sometimes result from cancer surgery and also give it a boost.” According to the article, when a cancerous tumor is removed during surgery, the immune system can take a downturn, subsequently making it more difficult for it to kill any remaining cancer cells eventually leading to the cancer’s return. The study’s findings suggest that when an erectile dysfunction drug and a flu vaccine are combined, the “natural killer” cells of the body are given a boost, helping to “attack and kill cancer cells for up to 1 month after the procedure.”
Despite success from the initial testing, which was conducted on mouse models after tumor removal surgery, there is still a lot of research left to analyze. According to Medical News Today, a clinical trial is currently underway on 24 patients, where both effectiveness and safety are the main focus. “Should the trial be successful, the next stage will be larger trials that assess the potential benefits.”
If successful, this wouldn’t be the first medical benefit linked to erectile dysfunction medications. A recent study at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University suggests that sildenafil could actually help prevent colorectal cancer. Another at the University of Auckland found that when pregnant women whose children are suffering from stunted growth in the womb take sildenafil, there was an overall higher survival rate. Both studies will require more research, but do raise interest in the agents found in ED medications and the possible benefits outside of erectile dysfunction treatment.
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