A common drug used to treat diabetes has been shown to reduce mortality from cancer in certain cases.
Researchers have discovered that metformin, a common drug prescribed to treat type 2 diabetes, could be effective at reducing mortality risk associated with some cancers in postmenopausal women. According to a report from UPI, the discovery could help save the lives of individuals with a particularly high mortality risk.
The study showed that women suffering from both type 2 diabetes and cancer have as much as a 45 percent higher chance of dying than women of similar age with cancer but not diabetes. Scientists showed that women who took metformin to treat type 2 diabetes had a mortality risk associated with cancer similar to women who did not have diabetes.
According to the study’s lead author Zhihong Gong, an assistant oncology professor at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY, “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.”
The authors acknowledged that the study did not offer a new miracle cure for either cancer or type 2 diabetes, and simply that an association between metformin use in certain individuals and decreased mortality risk was found. Despite the study’s limitations, Gong hopes to continue researching the benefits of treating type 2 diabetes in cancer patients to increase longevity.
Metformin is a commonly prescribed medication used to treat type 2 diabetes. The drug makes the body more receptive to insulin, reducing resistance to the hormone and easing strain on the pancreas, the organ that generates it.
The study, published in the International Journal of Cancer, pulled data from 146,000 postmenopausal women between the ages of 50 and 79. The majority of the data was gathered between 1993 and 1998 as a part of the Women’s Health Initiative.
“Our findings suggest that diabetes remains a risk factor for cancer and cancer-related death, and metformin therapy, compared to other diabetes medications, may have an important role in managing diabetes-associated cancer,” said Gong.
A press release from the Roswell Park Cancer Institute describing the details of the study can be found here.