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Celebrex May Help Prevent Lung Cancer
Also at the meeting, researchers reported that the popular painkiller Celebrex may someday help to prevent lung cancer.
Celebrex lowered levels of a cancer biomarker called Ki-67 that is involved in cell proliferation, says study researcher Edward S. Kim, MD, an assistant professor of thoracic head and neck medical oncology at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
But, he stresses, the research is early and people shouldn't start popping Celebrex in hopes of warding off the disease.
This study involved 212 people, all of whom were current or previous heavy smokers. All had biopsies at the beginning of the study, and again three and six months later.
At the start, they were randomly assigned to take either Celebrex or a placebo for three months. Then they continued on the same treatment or crossed over to the other one for another three months.
At three months, people who took a higher, 400-milligram twice-daily dose of Celebrex had lower levels of Ki-67 than those who didn't. The lower 200-milligram twice-daily dose had no significant effect on levels Ki-67.
None of the people taking Celebrex developed cardiac problems, but the drug has been associated with an increased risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular disease in other studies.
"We cannot say that taking [Celebrex] is going to prevent lung cancer," Kim says. "What we do know was that Celebrex, when taken over a three- or six-month period, was safe to administer even at a higher dose of 800 milligrams daily."
Kim tells WebMD that further research is needed to show that people with lower levels of Ki-67 actually have a lower risk of developing lung cancer.
Additional study is also needed to pinpoint which patients are at greatest risk for Celebrex-associated heart problems, he says. Then doctors could weigh the benefits and risks of the preventive therapy for each patient.