How gel made from VIAGRA eases painful blisters suffered by cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy – Daily Mail


How a gel made from VIAGRA eases painful blisters suffered by cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy

  • Up to 85 per cent of those who have radiotherapy experience painful or red skin
  • Water-based gel containing sildenafil may protect against and treat this damage
  • In animal tests, radiation wounds healed quicker with the gel than without it 

A gel made from the anti-impotence drug Viagra (sildenafil) could ease one of the main side-effects for cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy.

Up to 85 per cent of those who have radiotherapy experience painful, red, or blistered skin around the area treated.

The longer the treatment lasts, the worse this can be, as the same area of skin is exposed to radiation every day for up to two months. 

But now scientists have developed a water-based gel containing 5 per cent sildenafil, which, initial research suggests, helps to protect against and treat this damage.

A gel made from the anti-impotence drug Viagra (sildenafil) could ease one of the main side-effects for cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy

In animal tests, radiation wounds healed quicker with the gel than without it.

Scientists say the drug helps by triggering the release of nitric oxide, a chemical known to play a vital part in wound healing by stimulating the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the damaged area. 

It does this in much the same way as it helps with impotence — by dilating tiny blood vessels so more blood can reach the affected region.

All wounds, burns and ulcers need a good supply of oxygen to heal.

About half of all cancer patients have some form of radiotherapy included in their treatment plan.

In some cases, it is given to shrink a tumour before surgery. In others, it is used afterwards to try to kill off any lingering cancer cells.

It is often effective, but can cause painful blistering of the skin, because radiotherapy, as well as destroying cancer cells, causes biochemical changes in healthy skin cells, leading to inflammation and breakdown.

Patients are advised to wash with unperfumed soap, pat skin dry instead of rubbing it, use moisturiser on the area and wear loose clothing to reduce irritation.

Up to 85 per cent of those who have radiotherapy experience painful, red, or blistered skin around the area treated

Dressings are sometimes used in between treatments to shield the area from everyday damage, and some patients are given steroid drugs to try to dampen down any inflammation. 

But even with such measures, it is estimated that more than 100,000 people a year in England alone experience skin problems from radiotherapy.

A team of scientists at the Institute of Nuclear Medicine & Allied Sciences, in New Delhi, India, decided to develop a Viagra-like gel because previous studies had found that wounds in patients who had been given the drug for erectile dysfunction appeared to heal more rapidly.

The team devised a rub-on gel that was 95 per cent water and 5 per cent sildenafil.

In a study involving rats, scientists applied it daily for almost a month after radiotherapy treatment.

The results, published in December in the journal Burns, showed that skin damage was reduced by more than 80 per cent and wound contraction — the rate at which blisters and ulcers healed — increased by a similar amount.

Meanwhile, tensile strength — a measure of how strong the damaged skin is — was 45 per cent higher in the sildenafil group than in rats not treated with the new gel.

Dr Tom Roques, spokesman for the Royal College of Radiologists, said most NHS cancer patients experience only mild to moderate skin damage from radiotherapy.

He said: ‘There is much more research needed before we know if this gel might be useful to any humans having radiotherapy.’

The active drug in Viagra, sildenafil, may boost fertility rates in older women who have had trouble conceiving with IVF. Doctors used it as a vaginal suppository in a small trial with 66 women aged 38 and over who had previously had two failed IVF attempts. 

After another round of IVF, those who had received the sildenafil were twice as likely to conceive as those given a placebo. It is thought sildenafil helps by improving blood flow to the womb. The researchers, from Tehran University, recommended larger trials be carried out. 

SECRETS OF AN A-LIST BODY  

How to get the enviable physiques of the stars. This week: Salma Hayek’s bottom

Salma was recently pictured wearing a golden gown that showed off her trim figure.

How to get the enviable physiques of the stars. This week: Salma Hayek’s bottom

The actress, 53, has said: ‘Some people have the discipline to exercise in the morning, but I didn’t develop that.’

She prefers walks with her dogs and yoga. ‘Even when you brush your teeth, you’re working the muscles,’ she has said.

WHAT TO TRY: The goblet squat targets your gluteal muscles and helps to shape your bottom.

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a kettlebell or weight at your chest.

Breathe in as you bend your knees and push your hips back, as if sitting, into a squat position.

Try to get your hips level with your knees (but don’t force it), keeping the weight at your chest. Breathe out as you push into your heels to rise to standing.

Do 15 repetitions and three sets.

BREATH DOCTOR 

What is your breath trying to tell you? This week: A fruity, sweet scent

One of the tell-tale signs of type 2 diabetes is a faint smell of pear drops on the breath, says Dr Dushyant Sharma, a consultant diabetologist at the Royal Liverpool Hospital.

TRY THIS 

Probio7 Intiflor capsules (£15.99 for 15 capsules, amazon.co.uk) contain cranberry extract, vitamin C and two strains of ‘good’ bacteria said to promote a healthy urinary tract. 

‘This happens because of a lack of insulin — which means the body can’t use sugar for energy and so it starts to break down fat instead,’ he explains.

‘Waste products called ketones build up, and the sweet, pear-drop smell comes from the chemicals in these ketones.’

According to the charity Diabetes UK, 3.8 million people in the UK are living with a diagnosis of diabetes, 90 per cent of whom have type 2.

‘So, if you have any concerns about sweet-smelling breath, you should consult a doctor immediately,’ says Dr Sharma.

According to the charity Diabetes UK, 3.8 million people in the UK are living with a diagnosis of diabetes, 90 per cent of whom have type 2

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