Email The commonly prescribed diabetes drug metformin could potentially double as an effective form of ovarian cancer treatment, according to a new study. Researchers diabetes medicine the Mayo Clinic found that ovarian cancer patients — who also had diabetes — lived longer than other ovarian cancer patients when they were taking metformin.
According to the scientists, they had been researching the link between metformin and its diabetes medicine anti-cancer properties for many years. Compared with the other patients, those taking metformin had a much higher survival rate — with 67 percent of the metformin-taking patients surviving after five years, versus 47 percent of those who were not taking the medication.
As for why the diabetes drug is so protective against cancer, the researchers cannot say for sure — but there are a few theories.
And it also may be acting on the cancer stem cells — cancer stem cells are thought to be engines of cancer growth. Instead, it could potentially be used in combination with already existing ovarian cancer treatments — to provide patients with the best overall therapy.
Patients diabetes medicine rarely diagnosed with ovarian cancer during its early stages, and the cancer has usually progressed extensively by the time it is caught.
The possibility of metformin being used as an approved ovarian cancer treatment is a ways diabetes medicine however, Kumar said he hopes this study will spur further investigation into the link between the diabetes medication and anti-cancer effects. If those clinical trials are positive, then I think diabetes medicine can be added to the other array of medications that we have for ovarian cancer — such as a platinum compounds and taxoid compounds.
The study was published online in the journal Cancer.
Stay up-to-date on the biggest health and wellness news with our weekly recap. Arrives Weekly.