Lower Cancer Rates with Glucophage

Cancer risk lower in diabetes patients taking glucophage

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Glucose, the sugar found in the blood, is a key part of the body's metabolism and is used by every cell in the human body.

With that kind of influence, it's not surprising that there may be complex effects caused by diabetes drugs.

In one analysis of cancer risks suggests that diabetes patients taking metformin (often sold as Glucophage) might be at a slight advantage.

"Ask your doctor about metformin ."

Diego Espinoza-Peralta, MD, leading a team from Mexico City's National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition presented the results of his analysis to the annual meeting of The Endocrine Society, which showed a reduced relative risk of cancers in patients with diabetes taking metformin.

A more in-depth secondary analysis found the greatest reduction in risk for colon and breast cancer, and found no difference for pancreatic cancer risk.

Dr. Espinoza-Peralta used the data from seven different studies on cancer incidence that included information on diabetes, which included data on 32,405 patients in total. Although several different types of drugs were used by patients for their diabetes, only those taking metformin showed any difference in cancer risk.

"Type 2 diabetes increases the risk for several types of cancer," said Dr. Diego Espinoza-Peralta, the study's lead author.

"Our findings suggest that the regular use of metformin—a low-cost medication— reduces this risk, compared with not taking metformin."

Using data from several studies on one topic for a combined meta-analysis on another topic is very problematic since proper targeted study design happens before the study, not after.

Independent long-term studies on this topic would need to be performed to verify any kind of relationship between metformin and cancer risk.

Dr. Espinoza-Peralta did not disclose the methods or criteria used for his statistical analysis, but said that since metformin prevents some kinds of normal cellular growth that effect might include cancer cells.

Research findings presented at conferences should be considered preliminary until publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

The study authors denied financial or professional influences that could have affected their research results.

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Review Date: 
July 2, 2012
Last Updated:
September 10, 2012