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NSAIDs Treat Colon Cancer by Inducing Cell Death in Mutated Carriers

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Following previous studies on prostate and other forms of cancer that have recently discovered promising information in terms of treatment, a new study from Pittsburgh has discovered an effective measure against colon cancer. The latest research from the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute as well as the School of Medicine has revealed a potential treatment for colon cancer. The results of the study showed that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) induce programmed cell death in potential cellular carriers for colon cancer. The findings, published online in the Scientific Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, describe the positive effects that NSAIDs have for colon cancer treatment and their exact mechanism behind preventive intervention.

What is colon cancer?

Colorectal cancer, more widely known as colon cancer, is a form of cancer that attacks that colon and rectum in the large intestine. Around the world, colon cancer is the third most common type of cancer were as much as 65% of global cases are found among developed countries. It is believed that the major risk factors for colon cancer involve harmful lifestyle choices, such as an unhealthy diet that promotes obesity, smoking, excessive alcohol intake, and a significant lack of regular exercise. People who have had inflammatory bowel disease are also at a greater risk of contracting the disease. Intestinal or adenomatous polyps, that grown along the inner wall of the colon, both present high colon cancer risks, and may lead to the development of the disease if not treated early.


NSAIDs is a type of medication that relieves pain and inflammation symptoms. Examples of NSAIDs include ibuprofen and aspirin, all of which are commonly prescribed and sold over the counter. These drugs work by controlling the activity of cyclooxygenase enzymes, which are in turn responsible for regulating sensations of pain and the common symptoms of inflammation. Aspirin and ibuprofen inhibit the action of these enzymes. The various medicinal uses of NSAIDs make them ideal for the treatment of several conditions, such as arthritis, spondylitis, dysmenorrhoea, migraine, back pain, and fever. NSAIDs have long been associated with colon cancer, however, their exact link had not yet been established. It was known that they decreased the risk of any intestinal polyps from forming, but the exact scientific reason behind it remained unknown.

Prevention mechanism

NSAIDs prevent colon cancer from developing by causing autophagic programmed cell death. The team of scientists from Pittsburgh, headed by Doctor Lin Zhang of the Pitt School of Medicine, performed a series of clinical experiments on animal subjects. The experiments revealed that the NSAIDs activated a cellular death receptor pathway in the intestines. This initiates a suicide program among stem cells with a mutation present in the adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) gene. Defects or mutations in this gene create the cancer risk and also leave the cell dysfunctional. The medications do not affect healthy cells while initiating the destruction of any cells that present a risk for cancerous tumors or polyps.

Cancer treatment

The findings of the study provide very positive results in the field of colon cancer treatment. They have given experts a new insight into the biological functions of NSAIDs. They provide proof of the effectiveness of the drugs for treating colon cancer. Doctor Zhang claimed that this new knowledge on the function of NSAIDs may be used as a stepping stone to produce further forms of treatment and medication. It may also be utilized to improve the current available kinds of colon cancer treatment and discover ways to reduce any adverse side-effects with their usage, such as ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding.