Cancer Risk Reduced with Diabetes Drug

by Mark Benson on November 25, 2011

Metformin helps prevent cancers

One of the cheaper drugs to manage diabetes has shown to be able to prevent a number of chemicals from helping in the growth of a form of breast cancer. This stunning conclusion was made after research was conducted by experts at the Michigan State University.

The study was lead by pediatrics professor James Trosko and was done in conjunction with South Korea’s Seoul National University. The results indicated that the conclusions made in previous epidemiological surveys were confirmed with this biological study. It confirmed that long-term use of the diabetes drug metformin for Type 2 diabetes significantly reduces the risk of some forms of cancer, such as breast cancer in women.

Trosko declared, “People with Type 2 diabetes are known to be at high risk for several diabetes-associated cancers, such as breast, liver and pancreatic cancers. While metformin has shown in population studies to reduce the risk of these cancers, there was no evidence how it worked.”

This study focused on the concept that most cancers result from activity in the adult human stem cells and the presence of certain natural and artificial chemicals would result in the growth of breast cancer cells. They used culture dishes where the small human breast tumors or mammospheres were grown. These in turn activated a particular stem cell gene, called Oct4A and when exposed to estrogen, there was an increased growth in breast tumors. Estrogen is well known as a growth factor especially for breast tumors.

“Though we still do not know the exact molecular mechanism by which it works, metformin seems to dramatically affect how estrogen and endocrine-disrupting chemicals cause the pre-existing breast cancers to grow, “ added Trosko.

The researchers added that further study needs to be done with human cultures to determine if metformin can cause in the reduction of the risk of pancreatic and liver cancer in Type 2 diabetics as well.

The cultured mammosphere sizes clearly diminished in size when metformin was added into the culture. This can only mean that metformin has properties that is able to inhibit the growth of these tumors despite the activity of the artificial and natural that stimulate the growth of these tumors.

To fully understand the research, the full study was published in the current edition of PloS One.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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