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Brain and bowel cancer treated by antidepressents

Published on 25/08/2011
Antidepressants used to treat depression and migraines dramatically reduce the risk of bowel cancer and a common type of brain cancer, a study revealed.

Health insurance customers will be pleased to know that tricyclic antidepressants cut the risk of bowel cancer by up to 21%. Bowel cancer is the second bigger cancer killer in Britain after lung cancer, killing 16,000 people a year.

The study was paid for by the publicly-funded Medical Research Council and compared around 31,500 people with cancer with around 61,500 people without.

The drugs, which account of a third of all prescriptions for antidepressants, also reduced the risk of the most common type of brain cancer. The risk of glioma, tumours of the brain and spine, which kill up to 2,000 a year, was cut by up to two-thirds.

The study, carried out by academics at three British universities, was published in the British Journal of Cancer. It revealed that the preventative effects of the drug increase over time and in larger doses.

Dr Tim Bates, of Lincoln University and New-Use Therapeutics explained that tricyclic antidepressants worked by attacking the "Achilles' heel" of some cancer cells, their mitochondria.

Whilst it is unlikely that the drugs will be prescribed to those without mental health problems because of the sedating side effects, the scientists do claim that people are a genetically higher risk of brain and bowel cancer could be prescribed them.

Dr Bates said: 'It is likely this will lead to the development of new drug treatments for a variety of conditions including cancer, Alzheimer's, diabetes and other disorders.'

Private medical cover holders can sometimes have access to expensive drugs that are not available on the NHS. Compare health insurance policies online with ActiveQuote now to make sure you are covered for new cancer treatment.
© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2011

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