Metformin and Cancer

Diabetes drug moonlights as preventative cancer treatment

Contour USBBy Eric Chang, diaTribe

Though metformin was first discovered in the 1920s, we are still learning about its wide-ranging effects. This learning curve will help you decipher the latest research on the potential anti-cancer effects of the well-known drug metformin.

Last June, the European medical journal Diabetologia (widely read by many European endocrinologists as well as other doctors and nurses) published a series of articles suggesting a possible link between Lantus insulin and cancer. The studies created a short-lived frenzy, but in the end a consensus soon emerged among most diabetes experts that the evidence supporting a link between Lantus insulin and cancer was too limited to draw serious conclusions. The FDA, as well as advocacy organizations such as the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), published statements suggesting that findings were inconclusive and therefore patients should continue use of Lantus.

While the original focus of the Diabetologia articles was on the potential cancerous effect of a diabetes therapy, the articles did point out that a different diabetes drug, metformin, seemed to consistently have an anti-cancer effect. And while concerns about Lantus have faded away, the findings about metformin have continued to simmer. As noted by Diabetologia editor Dr. Edwin Gale (Southmead Hospital) at the 45th annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Vienna last year, there was one conclusive takeaway from the ordeal: metformin, linked to a potential anti-cancer effect in the studies, should be fast tracked for further study.

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Last Modified Date: November 08, 2013

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