Metformin is a workhorse drug for people with diabetes. It helps patients control their blood sugar and makes them more sensitive to insulin. But soon, metformin may take on a new role fighting cancer.
Results of a preliminary study presented Saturday at the American Assn. for Cancer Research’s annual meeting in Chicago suggest metformin slowed the growth of prostate cancer tumors. The study involved 22 men with prostate cancer. All of them were scheduled to have their prostates removed, and some of them took metformin for about seven weeks beforehand. After the prostates were excised, researchers from Toronto compared them and found that tumors grew more slowly in men who took the diabetes drug than in men who didn’t.
Those findings were augmented by a flurry of studies published Saturday in various AACR journals. Taken together, they offer hopeful signs that the diabetes drug may help prevent or treat an array of cancers.
* In a study that examined 302 patients with pancreatic cancer, 117 were taking metformin. Researchers from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center found that the one-year survival rate for patients on metformin was 64%, compared with only 46% for patients who weren’t on the drug. After two years, the survival rate was 30% for those taking metformin and 15% for those who weren’t. The findings were published in Clinical Cancer Research.