Jun 18, 2016

Does a common diabetes drug reduce cancer risk?

Metformin-from-xtal-3D-ballsIn the UK, a total of 62,809 patients with diabetes were found to have a higher risk of colon and pancreatic cancer compared to a similar population without diabetes. Diabetics who were also obese had the highest number of cancers.

The cancer risk was significantly lower among those taking metformin monotherapy as opposed to glycloside or insulin.

A study from the other side of the world, involving 872,706 Australians cross referenced the National Diabetes Service Scheme (NDSS) with the National Death Index, found a significant link between type 2 diabetes and fatal colon and pancreatic cancer but also cancers of the liver, uterus, kidney, thyroid, gallbladder and blood (leukaemia).

The mechanism for metformin’s benefit lies in the fact that it works by improving the cells sensitivity to insulin and hence reduces insulin-like growth factor (IGF) in those developing insulin resistance.

Although prospective randomised trials confirming the protective benefits of metformin have not been completed, these data are very convincing, especially as they involved such large numbers and are from two independent prestigious organisations.

It certainly would be common sense, if diabetic, to ask your doctor to take metformin as opposed to or additional to glycloside.

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