July 25, 2019
The diabetes medication metformin was associated with significantly lengthened survival in patients with type 2 diabetes and pancreatic cancer and lymphoma, according to a study published online in The American Journal of the Medical Sciences.
“The biguanide drug metformin is one of the most commonly used medications for the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus,” researchers explained. “Diabetics are at an increased risk for cancer. Previous studies have demonstrated improved outcomes in patients taking metformin suffering from prostate, colon, lung, thyroid, and esophageal cancers.”
For this study, researchers investigated survival rates of people with type 2 diabetes who took metformin and also had pancreatic cancer and lymphoma. Using the Computerized Patient Record System at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Memphis, Tennessee, investigators sorted patients with type 2 diabetes as well as pancreatic cancer or lymphoma into two groups: those who took metformin and those who did not take metformin.
Long-term survival was significantly greater in the metformin group for both lymphoma and pancreatic cancer, researchers found. Patients in the metformin group with lymphoma survived an average 5.89 years compared with 1.29 years for patients in the nonmetformin group. For pancreatic cancer, survival in the metformin group was an average 0.68 years compared with 0.22 years in the nonmetformin group.
Cancer treatment in both groups was comparable, researchers noted.
“Metformin is associated with a significant, positive effect of increased overall survival in type 2 diabetes patients with pancreatic cancer and lymphoma,” researchers wrote. “These results are encouraging, and prospective studies should be done to further investigate metformin's effects in cancer.”
Wynn A, Vacheron A, Zuber J, Solomon SS. Metformin associated with increased survival in type 2 diabetes patients with pancreatic cancer and lymphoma [published online July 4, 2019]. AM J Med Sci. pii: S0002-9629(19)30223-X. doi: 10.1016/j.amjms.2019.06.002