Noone is paying attention to any of my posts not related to elevatorgate right now, so you probably missed today’s article on naked mole-rats, who live for an eternity and never get cancer.
Well, there is one substance that has actually been associated with a reduction in cancer occurrences in humans in the past, and repeatedly so, and that’s Celecoxib, a synthetic antirheumatic drug from the class of so-called Cox-2 inhibitors. The cyclooxigenases Cox-1 and Cox-2 are enzymes that mediate various biochemical transformations and reaction inside our cells, as schematically shown in this diagram :
You want Cox-inhibitors to be as Cox-2 selective as possible, to prevent adverse effects like stomach ulcers and thrombosis. One of the Cox-2 drugs that emerged in the last 10 years is Celecoxib, marketed as Celeb*ex, and it’s mainly used for conditions with increased inflammation, e.g. all kinds of arthritic and rheumatic problems.
But Celecoxib has also been shown to reduce cancer occurrence, to the point that it is now licensed for the treatment of familial intestinal polyposis, a condition where sufferers get bowel cancers at an early age. The drug has been associated, at least in animal models, with a reduction in breast and bladder cancer.
And now we have evidence that Celecoxib might also be able to reduce the occurrence of lung cancer in former smokers. The researchers measured the Ki-67 labeling index (in short, a measure of cell proliferation, in this case in the lungs) of former smokers after 6 months of treatment with 400mg Celecoxib twice daily, vs placebo :
When analyzed on a persubject basis, the aggregate mean in Ki-67 score showed that placebo had little overall impact on Ki-67 (3.8% increase from baseline) whereas 6 months of celecoxib reduced the Ki-67 LI on average by 34% (P = 0.04, Fig. 2A). The magnitude of this response to celecoxib was similar to the 35% reduction reported from our pilot study in active smokers (18).
The cell proliferation marker was reduced by 34% in the Celecoxib group, vs a 3.8% increase in the placebo group. There is good evidence that Cox-2 plays an important role in cancer genesis and cell proliferation, and these results indicate that Cox-2 inhibitors might become an important factor in the reduction of neoplasms in former smokers. Which doesn’t mean you should all start popping those pills tomorrow. They have adverse effects and risks as well. More data is needed to make definitive treatment recommendations at this stage, but the evidence so far is pretty good that Cox-2 inhibitors can play a role in the reduction of the incidence of certain neoplastic diseases. Take that, mole-rats !
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