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One of the most popular medications for type 2 diabetes, metformin, may reduce the likelihood of death from cancer.

What Is Metformin?

Metformin (Fortamet, Glucophage, Glumetza, Riomet) was originally derived from an herbal remedy dating back hundreds of years. Galega officinalis (also called French lilac, though it is not a lilac, or goat’s rue) had a reputation for controlling symptoms related to high blood sugar. It has become a first-line treatment for type 2 diabetes.

How Does Metformin Affect Your Chance of Death from Cancer?

In recent years, metformin has been associated with a lower likelihood of developing certain cancers. We have written about that research here. It may also improve the likelihood of success with radiation treatment, as we wrote here.

The new study published in the International Journal of Cancer tracked 145,826 postmenopausal women. They were participants in the Women’s Health Initiative between 1993 to 1998.

Which Cancers Were Affected?

Those with diabetes were at increased risk for developing a range of cancers of the colon, endometrium, pancreas and liver. But if women were taking metformin to control their their type 2 diabetes, they were less likely to develop many of these hard-to-treat cancers and their chance of death from cancer was reduced.

International Journal of Cancer, April 15, 2016

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  1. John

    I noticed that the Metformin has taken away my muscle aches caused by statin. This happened about 3 weeks after I started metformin.

  2. Lillian

    It may help with cancer, but I think readers should be told about what it does to your kidneys. Our PC had my husband on Metformin for Type 2 Diabetes and after a year his kidney function started decreasing. For whatever reason, she increased the dosage and the functions decreased some more to the point that she sent him to a kidney specialist who IMMEDIATELY told him to stop taking Metformin. His diabetes was easily controlled with a low dose of glyburide and he should never have put on Metformin, but the damage had been done. Make sure your kidney doctor knows what you are taking.

  3. jerry

    how much metformin should you take for protection against cancer

  4. Amy

    Berberine is supposedly even better than Metformin at treating Type 2 diabetes and it has antimicrobial properties as well, so I can only imagine it would have a similar anticancer effect.

  5. Rachel

    So how can we get to take metformin so we can be protected against cancer?

  6. Mary

    Remember that all versions will deplete Vitamin B12, essential for good health.

  7. LJ

    That is good information to know. Thank you

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