Statins can help defeat bowel cancer, experts say.
Cheap pills that are commonly used by millions to reduce cholesterolwas found to stop tumor growth in laboratory tests.
Researchers claim that an “exciting” breakthrough could help in a quarter of cases, benefiting about 10,000 Britons each year.
Four out of five bowel cancer caused by a mutation in the APC gene, which controls cell growth that causes tumor formation.
Researchers at Queen Mary University of London have tested more than 1,200 already approved drugs on mutant cancer cells.
The team found three statins – lovastatin, mevastatin and simvastatin – all of which worked to destroy tumors.
Although cholesterol-lowering drugs do not cure the disease, they can help stop it. cancer spreads and turns into a fatal outcome.
Every year 40,000 Britons are diagnosed with bowel cancer, including the writer Sun. Lady Deborah James.
Lead researcher Dr Sarah Martin of the Center for Cancer Cells and Molecular Biology at the Barts Cancer Institute, QMUL, said: “This is a very exciting development.
“If statins could be used to stop the progression of bowel cancer, it would be very good news for patients.”
The results of the study are published in the journal Frontiers in Oncology.
Currently, the only treatment for bowel cancer is surgery and chemotherapy, which has toxic side effects.
Dr Martin added: “If we could prescribe statins as an effective treatment for colon cancer, it means that patients could probably take them for a while, thus significantly prolonging their lives and their quality of life during treatment will change.
“Statins can’t cure cancer, but we’re sure they can reduce the tumor so it doesn’t spread and grow again.”
Further research is now needed to determine which patients will be most helpful.
Lynn Dan, interim executive director of Bowel Research UK, which helped fund the study, said: “Very promising results … on statins and bowel cancer are another fantastic testament to our research funding strategy.”
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