Metformin Boosts Survival in Men With Diabetes, Prostate Cancer

The drug of choice to treat type 2 diabetes may have uses beyond the treatment of diabetes alone, according to the results a new study.

Researchers looked at data in which metformin was used to treat men who were suffering from both diabetes and prostate cancer, and found that the risk of mortality for those taking the drug during the first six months of treatment was significantly reduced.

According to the study, which appeared in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, metformin use was associated with a 24 percent lower risk of mortality during the first six-month period compared with those not taking the drug.

Additionally, the odds of death from prostate cancer were reduced by 44 percent during the second six months of the trial.

Data for the research was gathered from several Ontario, Canada-based health care facility databases and focused on 3,837 men older than 66 with both diabetes and prostate cancer. Researchers examined the use of metformin, which suppresses blood glucose production by the liver, on both all-cause and prostate cancer-specific mortality.

According to Kathryn L. Penney of Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, who wrote an accompanying editorial, the study showed that “increasing duration of metformin use among diabetic men after a diagnosis of prostate cancer was associated with decreased prostate cancer-specific and all-cause mortality.”

Of those participating in the study, 7.6 percent died as a result of prostate cancer, a disease results in about 239,000 diagnoses a year in the United States.

“Based on the strong evidence of this well-executed study, metformin, a drug widely prescribed to diabetics with over 61 million prescriptions filled in the United States in 2012, may potentially be a safe and effective secondary prevention strategy for prostate cancer,” Penney added.

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