New research at Stanford University discovered that statins could reduce symptoms of ulcerative colitis with data proving that the pill left patients half as likely to need surgery. Ulcerative colitis occurs when the colon and rectum become inflamed and have ulcers.
The main symptoms of ulcerative colitis are:
Recurring diarrhoea, which may contain blood, mucus or pus
Needing to empty your bowels frequently
You may also experience fatigue, loss of appetite and weight loss.
The severity of the symptoms varies, depending on how much of the rectum and colon is inflamed and how severe the inflammation is. For some people, the condition has a significant impact on their everyday lives.
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Stanford University experts have found atorvastatin (statins) – sold under the name Lipitor for just 54p a pill can help ease the painful and irritating symptoms.
Researchers of the study scrolled through databases containing hundreds of ulcerative colitis patients in the US.
They looked at what treatments patients were being given for other conditions and compared their outcomes.
Those on cholesterol-lowering statins appeared to see the biggest improvements to their ulcerative colitis, as well as patients on two chemotherapy drugs.
Doctor Purvesh Khatri, a biomedical expert at Stanford behind the study, argued the two cancer drugs wouldn’t be prescribed “due to serious side effects.”
However, he added: “Statins are generally safe enough that some doctors joke they should be put in the water.”
Ulcerative colitis patients who were taking statins were also prescribed other anti-inflammatory medications at a lower rate.
Whilst it is not entirely known how statins reduce symptoms of the disease, Dr Khatri said they are known to have some sort of general anti-inflammatory abilities.
This involves a sigmoidoscopy, during which a camera on a thin tube is inserted into the back passage.
Sigmoidoscopies can be done only in a hospital and three members of staff are needed to operate the equipment.
Patients then have to return a week later to speak to their doctor about their results.
Now, thanks to a new portable device called the LumenEye, sigmoidoscopies could be a thing of the past for colitis patients.