Another win for Metformin

Oral cancer in mice stalled with metformin

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

(RxWiki News) Metformin, a drug used to control type 2 diabetes, has been in the news a great deal lately because it appears to have anti-cancer qualities. A number of cancers seem to respond to metformin, with the latest being oral cancer.

New research suggests that metformin may be protective against oral cancer. These findings were presented at the American Association of Cancer Research AACR) Annual Meeting 2012.

"If you have an ongoing problem with swallowing, see your doctor."

For the study, J. Silvio Gutkind, Ph.D., chief of the Oral and Pharyngeal Cancer Branch of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, and colleagues engineered mice to have pre-malignant oral cancer lesions.

They observed the impact metformin to see if and how the precancerous lesions progressed to oral cancer.

Investigators saw that the drug had what they called "strong activity against" a protein that's known to play a role in oral cancers. Gutkind said as a result, "this is strong preclinical information that there is a protective effect."

The most widely used treatment for type 2 diabetes, metformin has been seen to decrease cancer activity in a number of malignancies, including liver, prostate, pancreatic cancers and melanoma.

Gutkind's team observed that metformin reduced the size and number of oral tumors in mice and also decreased the development of squamous cell carcinomas by anywhere from 70-90 percent.

“We clearly saw a direct effect on premalignant lesions,” said Gutkind. 

Metformin is marketed under the following brand names: Fortamet, Glucophage, Glumetza and Riomet.

All research findings are considered preliminary before publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 5, 2012
Last Updated:
April 5, 2012