Metformin: Can a Diabetes Drug Help Prevent Cancer?
In 1957, the first results from a clinical trial of the diabetes drug metformin in patients were published. Yet, it would take nearly 40 years for the drug to be approved in the United States as a treatment for type 2 diabetes.
Now researchers want to know whether this decades-old drug may have additional uses in another disease—cancer. Based on findings from a number of large epidemiologic studies and extensive laboratory research, metformin is being tested in clinical trials not only as a treatment for cancer, but as a way to prevent it in people at increased risk, including cancer survivors who have a higher risk of a second primary cancer.
Numerous early-stage clinical trials are currently under way to investigate metformin’s potential to prevent an array of cancers, including colorectal, prostate, endometrial, and breast cancer. Several of these trials are being funded by NCI’s Consortia for Early Phase Prevention Trials. And NCI is collaborating with the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) to study participants from the landmark clinical trial, the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), to investigate metformin’s impact on cancer incidence.
Some of the early-phase prevention trials of metformin are enrolling participants who are at increased risk for cancer and who are obese, have elevated glucose or insulin levels, or have other conditions that put them at risk for diabetes.
“With the obesity epidemic, these studies are applicable to a substantial portion of the U.S. population and, increasingly, of the world population,” Continue reading