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Celebrex Also Slashes Polyp Risks
A second study presented at the meeting showed that the popular painkiller
Celebrex also slashes the risk of developing new precancerous colon growths
-- even after people stop taking the drug.
But that research also showed that people taking Celebrex had more heart
stroke, and other cardiovascular problems, particularly if they already had
The researchers followed people who were involved in a study that was
terminated early after Celebrex was linked to an increased risk of
Participants took either 200 milligrams or 400 milligrams of Celebrex, or a
placebo, twice a day, for three years. About 600 of them had a follow-up
colonoscopy an average of one-and-one-half years after stopping the drug.
"At three years, there was about a 57% reduction in the presence of new
advanced lesions in patients on the lower dose of Celebrex," says Monica
Bertagnolli, MD, associate professor of surgery at the Brigham and Women's
Hospital in Boston.
By an average of one-and-one-half years after discontinuing treatment, there
was still a 41% reduction in advanced lesions among people on the lower dose of
Celebrex, she tells WebMD
The higher dose was no more effective than the lower dose, Bertagnolli
Heart Safety of Celebrex Is a Concern
But 8.5% of patients on Celebrex had a
heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular problem over the five-year
period, Bertagnolli says.
"Almost any way you look at it, there is some cardiovascular risk
associated with Celebrex. So we can't say the 200-milligram, twice-daily dose,
is completely safe. We can say that neither dose should be used by patients
with cardiovascular risk factors," Bertagnolli says.
So what about people at low risk of heart problems but high risk of colon
That's a muddy area, she says.
"For people at high risk, such as those who have had multiple, large
adenomas removed, we can certainly say it is certainly effective,"
Bertagnolli tells WebMD.
The risks to the heart have to be weighed against the cancer-prevention
benefits, she says.
Scott Lippman, MD, of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in
Houston and a participant at both presentations, tells WebMD: "These
are two of the most important trials in cancer prevention research. They will
take us into the future."
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