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Dr. Jejurikar's Blog

If there wasn’t already enough to love about Botox, now there is one more thing. As we all know, Botox injections into the face have wonderful cosmetic benefits and can make you look years younger by removing wrinkles from the forehead, crow’s feet and glabella (between the eyebrows). What you almost certainly didn’t know is that new research from Columbia University Medical Center has found that Botox may have a role in limiting the growth of stomach cancer. The research, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, demonstrated that the combination of chemotherapy and Botox boosted survival rates 35% in mice compared to chemotherapy alone. Given that gastric (stomach) cancer is the fourth-leading type of cancer and the second highest contributor of mortality in the world, if the same results ultimately are shown in humans, this could lead to saving thousands of lives..

The primary authors of this groundbreaking work have noted that, with stomach cancer, many nerves exist in and around tumor cells; this is true in both mice and human cancers. The authors hypothesized that blocking nerve signals to cancer cells could make them more vulnerable by blocking one of the key factors that control their growth. One of the treatments therefore utilized in treating gastric cancer is a surgical procedure known as a vagotomy, in the primary nerve to the stomach, the Vagus nerve is cut. Although effective in limiting nerve signals to tumor cells, it is an invasive surgical procedure with significant potential complications.

Botox achieves its effects, even for cosmetic applications, by blocking a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. Blocking acetylcholine through facial injections lessens wrinkles by temporarily paralyzing muscles. Acetylcholine also stimulates cell multiplication, thereby providing a link to cancer treatment.

Phase two of clinical trials using actual patients is now currently being conducted in Norway. Botox can be administered to the nerves to the stomach by inserting a small fiberoptic tube through the mouth to the stomach; the procedure is relatively quick and patients can go home shortly after the procedure. Obviously, this has yet to become mainstream treatment in the fight against gastric cancer, but the obvious potential benefits are huge!

So next time you are getting your cosmetic treatment with Botox, remember that big things are still being discovered with this amazing drug. Not only is Botox fantastic at making us all look younger, but could also have tremendous health benefits in the fight against cancer!

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