Widely Used Diabetes Drug May Reduce Cancer Death Risk

Posted: Apr 17 2016, 3:54am CDT | by , Updated: Apr 17 2016, 8:46pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
Widely Used Diabetes Drug May Reduce Cancer Death Risk
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Metformin, a drug for type 2 diabetes, is found to have the potential to cut cancer-related death risk.

New research has found that Metformin, a drug commonly used for treating diabetes, is appreciably effective against cancer too. It can decrease the risk of cancer-related deaths among people.

The effect was particularly observed in older women who are diagnosed with both cancer and type 2 diabetes. Women with both cancer and diabetes are found to have 45% higher risk of death compared to women who had cancer but not diabetes. Researchers have found that if women with cancer take Metformin to treat their diabetes, their chances of dying from cancer become as slim as it was for those women who do not have diabetes.

“Our findings suggest that diabetes remains a risk factor for cancer and caner-related death and Metformin therapy, compared to other diabetes medications, may have an important role in (managing) diabetes associated with cancer.” Lead researcher Zhihong Gong, a professor at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in New York said in a statement.

For the study, researchers reexamined data of nearly 146,000 postmenopausal women aged between 50 and 79. All of them participated in Women’s Health Initiative study that lasted five years from 1993 to 1998 and was focused on the patients of type 2 diabetes. Researchers found that all the participants had 25 to 35% higher risk of developing colon and endometrial cancer as well as lymphoma. The odds of developing liver and pancreatic cancer were even higher. Overall diabetes was associated with higher risk of total invasive cancer.

But researchers found that patients who used the Metformin drug particularly for a long time were at lower risk of developing certain cancer and dying from cancer compared to those who used other medications to treat diabetes.

“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 therapies.” Gong said.

Currently, researchers are not sure about underlying mechanism of the drug and why it positively affects cancer patients but they suggest that further researches could help unlock the mystery and also determine the “long term effect of metformin in cancer risk and survival from cancer.”

The details of the study can be viewed here.

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