Diabetes Drug Metformin May Slow Prostate Cancer Growth

It appears that metformin, an oral drug used to treat type 2 diabetes, may slow prostate cancer growth in men. The announcement was made by Anthony M. Joshua, MBBS, PhD, staff medical oncologist at the Princess Margaret Hospital, University Health Network in Toronto, at the AACR Meeting 2012 held March 31-April 4.

In individuals who have type 2 diabetes, metformin is the most commonly prescribed drug treatment. Metformin works by reducing the amount of glucose absorbed by the body from food and the amount of glucose made by the liver, as well as increases the body’s response to insulin.

The results of this Phase 2 study follow previous research which indicated metformin might slow the growth of prostate cancer cells. In the new study, 22 men scheduled for prostatectomy because of prostate cancer were given up to 500 mg of metformin three times daily for an average of 41 days before they underwent the procedure.

Joshua noted that although their findings are preliminary, “metformin appeared to reduce the growth rate of prostate cancer in a proportion of men.” In addition, metformin use was associated with a significant reduction in fasting glucose, body mass index, insulin growth factor-1, and waist-to-hip ratio.

The findings could have implications for men with prostate cancer and diabetes or prostate cancer tumors sensitive to metformin. Joshua also noted that their research “builds on the hypothesis that metformin has a role in prostate cancer,” and even though the exact role has not yet been defined, the authors believe it “will depend on the results of the analysis currently being completed by our study team and others worldwide.”

Read more in our Prostate Cancer Health Center.


Medical Press. Metformin appeared to slow prostate cancer growth. 2012 Apr 1

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