Metformin, a drug used to treat type 2 diabetes, is being studied in clinical trials as a preventive for several types of cancer, including colorectal, prostate, endometrial and breast. Other research with the drug has shown that it can slow the aging process and extend lifespan in roundworms, and a study published in 2013 found that metformin improved the lifespan and health of middle-aged male mice. The researchers reported that treating mice with the drug leads to some of the benefits of calori C restriction, such as improved physical performance, increased insulin sensitivity, and reduced LDL “bad”) cholesterol. We have discovered from epidemiologic studies following people with diabetes that in many (but not all) of these investigations, those assigned to take metformin had a lower incidence of cancer than those who took other drugs. More information about metformin’s potential anti-cancer effects may come soon from the follow-up of a trial involving more than 3,200 people at increased risk for developing diabetes. Results so far from the original study, the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), show that participants randomly assigned to receive metformin had a 31 percent lower risk of developing diabetes than those who received a placebo. (A 58 percent lower risk was seen among study participants assigned to an intensive diet and physical activity program.) Since the DPP ended in 2002, researchers have been tracking participants to determine the incidence of cancer and death among them. At the recently concluded annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) a group of researchers from Mexico City described a surprising discovery: In a phase 2 trial in patients with stage 4 lung cancer, a 24-year-old diabetes drug significantly improved survival when added to a standard therapy. That drug, metformin, is used to lower blood sugar in type 2 diabetics. And because it went generic years ago, it generally costs pennies a pill—an advantage that’s enticing to the oncology community, which has been grappling with questions about how to pay for new and very expensive therapies like mutation-targeting and checkpoint-blocking drugs. The notion that metformin may be useful in cancer care isn’t new. In the mid-2000s, several observational studies revealed that the rate of cancer was lower overall in diabetes patients who were taking metformin, and diabetics who did develop cancer while on metformin were less likely to die of the disease than those not taking the drug. So scientists all over the world started studying metformin in various cancers, searching for clues to its cancer-fighting prowess and evidence that it might improve survival when added to traditional treatments. This year’s ASCO featured 15 completed or planned studies of metformin in cancer care.
Clinical trials are research studies that involve people. The clinical trials on this list are studying Metformin Hydrochloride. NCI’s basic information about clinical trials explains the types and phases of trials and how they are carried out. Clinical trials look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat disease. You may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial. Talk to your doctor for help in deciding if one is right for you. Population studies, mouse models, and mechanistic studies all show that metformin, a cheap well-tolerated diabetes drug, impacts in some way on how some cancers develop and progress. Anna Wagstaff talks to clinicians and researchers building the evidence on what it can deliver in the clinic. In the early 2000s diabetologists began reporting an unusually low rate of cancer among their patients who were treated with metformin. What happened next seemed to follow a ‘false-dawn’ pattern that has become all too familiar in the history of cancer research. A series of epidemiological studies came out showing large effect sizes, some showing cancer rates more than halved in metformin users – results that wiser heads cautioned were simply “too good to be true”. But then attempts to back up the findings with lab studies confounded the sceptics: whether used against cancer cells in petri dishes or against tumours in mice models, metformin did indeed inhibit cancer growth. “That was the golden period,” says Michael Pollak, whose lab at the Mc Gill translational research centre in Montreal, Quebec, was one of those tasked with carrying out the research.
Scoliosis in young people in ‘Long term health conditions’ Young People Screening for prostate cancer; Screening for sickle cell and beta thalassaemia Oct 27, 2017. In the early 2000s diabetologists began reporting an unusually low rate of cancer among their patients who were treated with metformin.