Diabetes drug metformin can cut cancer death risk: study

Metformin, a drug commonly prescribed to fight diabetes, may also be helpful in reducing the risk of dying from certain cancers for postmenopausal women, a fresh study has suggested.

A team of researchers led by Zhihong Gong, an assistant professor of oncology at Buffalo, N.Y.-based Roswell Park Cancer Institute, found that women with type 2 diabetes as well as cancer face 45 per cent higher risk of dying from cancer as compared with those who have cancer but don’t have diabetes.

The researchers found women with cancer who took metformin, a commonly prescribed diabetes drug, to treat type 2 of the condition witnessed a significant decline in risk of dying from cancer. Dr. Gong added that the study doesn’t prove that metformin reduces the risk of dying from cancer. More research on the subject is needed, the research team added. However, metformin could be playing a role in reducing the risk of dying from cancer for postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes.

Sharing findings of the study, Dr. Gong said, “Our findings from this large study may provide more evidence that postmenopausal women with diabetes and cancer may benefit from metformin therapy compared to other anti-diabetes therapy.”

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), metformin is a front-line drug in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Individuals with type-2 diabetes do not use the hormone insulin efficiently that leads the pancreas to pump out more & more insulin until it ultimately fails.

The study team reviewed data for 146,000 postmenopausal women. The study subjects belonged to 50-79 years age group. The data for collected for the large Women’s Health Initiative study between 1993 and 1998.

The encouraging findings of the study published in the April 15th print edition of the prestigious International Journal of Cancer.

“We still don’t understand the exact mechanism of action of this old drug used in diabetes,” Dr. Joel Zonszein, director of the Clinical Diabetes Center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. “It may have positive effects in decreasing cancer mortality and or increasing longevity as shown in this paper.”

According to a report in Nature World News by John Raphael, “The researchers looked at specific kinds of cancer. They discovered that postmenopausal women with diabetes have 25 to 35 percent increased risk in developing colon and endometrial cancers and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma while the risk for developing liver and pancreatic cancer are being doubled.”

“Metformin may reduce the risk of dying from some cancers for postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes, according to a study published in the April 15 issue of the International Journal of Cancer,” according to a news report published by Doctors Lounge.

“Metformin users, particularly long-term users, may be at lower risk of developing certain cancers and dying from cancer, compared to users of other anti-diabetes medications,” the authors write. “Future studies are needed to determine the long-term effect of metformin in cancer risk and survival from cancer.”

“Our findings from this large study may provide more evidence that postmenopausal women with diabetes and cancer may benefit from metformin therapy compared to other anti-diabetes therapy,” said lead researcher Zhihong Gong, assistant professor of oncology at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, said in a statement in Health Day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *