Common diabetes drug lowers risk for cancer of the pancreas

September 21, 2009

Metformin reduces an individual’s risk of developing pancreatic cancer by 62%, according to research from Houston’s M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Metformin is the most commonly prescribed drug for patients with type 2 diabetes, who are often obese and/or have insulin resistance.

Metformin reduces an individual's risk of developing pancreatic cancer by 62%, according to research from Houston's M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Metformin is the most commonly prescribed drug for patients with type 2 diabetes, who are often obese and/or have insulin resistance.

The researchers enrolled 1,838 participants (973 patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma, 863 cancer-free individuals). Of these, 259 patients and 109 controls were diabetics. They found that diabetics who took metformin alone or in any combination with other diabetic therapies had a 62% risk reduction compared to those who never used the drug (Gastroenterology 137:482-488, 2009).

Diabetics who had taken insulin had a 4.99-fold increased risk for the disease, compared with never users.