Is diabetes pill an anti-ageing wonder drug, and magic bullet to treat cancer and Alzheimer’s?
One of the hottest new anti-ageing drugs has in fact been around for a long time. Discovered in 1922, metformin was introduced as a medicine in France in 1957 and has been widely used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes – and it still is – but research now suggests it may have a number of additional health benefits. What’s more, it’s very affordable.
Metformin is derived from a plant, French lilac, also known as goat’s rue, that has been used since the Middle Ages for the treatment of diabetes. It is also a staple in traditional Chinese medicine, where it is known as quei fu di huang wan and is used for diabetes as well as to treat elevated blood sugars and for preventive health. At one time the plant was fed to goats, as it was thought to improve milk production, thus the name goat’s rue.
There are more than 700,000 people with diabetes in Hong Kong and that number is expected to jump to 1.02 million by 2030, according to Dr Rose Ting Zhao-wei, a specialist in endocrinology. Metformin is among the most common treatments for type 2 diabetes, but increasingly it is also being recognised as being able to do much more.
A 2014 study at Cardiff University of more than 180,000 people found that when patients with diabetes were given metformin they lived longer than those without the condition. “That was the big leap to, ‘Wow, we should take it, why are diabetics healthier than we are’,” says Dr Lauren Bramley at Dr Bramley & Partners, a medical practice in Hong Kong’s Centrat district that focuses on wellness.
We tend to lose insulin sensitivity as we age. Continue reading