The inexpensive diabetes drug Metformin has new life as an anti-cancer medication. Metformin has been used for almost a century as a safe and routine treatment for type 2 diabetes.
Metformin’s Anti-Cancer Properties
In diabetes, Metformin stops the overproduction of glucose in the liver. In cancer, Metformin may act by blocking the supply of glucose to cancer cells. Cancer cells rely on the fermentation of glucose for their growth, instead of oxygen like normal healthy cells.
Metformin blocks the activity of enzymes used for cancer cell growth. Metformin also inhibits an important pathway which plays a pivotal role in metabolism, growth and proliferation of cancer cells.
Metformin Cancer Research
The American National Center for Biotechnology Information documents almost 4,500 studies investigating the use of Metformin as an adjunct drug in the treatment of cancer.
A study in the journal Carcinogenesis showed Metformin, when combined with a certain class of anti-cancer drugs, reduced breast cancer cell growth by up to 76 per cent.
According to an article published in the Annals of Translational Medicine, “the use of Metformin, the most commonly prescribed drug for type 2 diabetes, was repeatedly associated with the decreased risk of the occurrence of various types of cancers.”
Metformin Cancer Case Studies
Lisa McGrath is a GP who was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in 2012. After rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, the cancer went into remission. But six years later, it returned with secondary bone metastasis.
As a GP with not only a medical degree, but a second degree in human cell biology, Lisa had a better understanding of the mechanisms of cancer than most people. She began researching other options, including Metformin, which she believes have helped her keep the cancer at bay.
Along with a new type of chemotherapy, Lisa also takes Metformin as part of a cocktail of ‘old’ metabolic drugs, including aspirin and a statin normally given to control cholesterol, which are thought to interrupt the ‘feeding’ of cancer cells.
Lisa discovered metformin through the book How To Starve Cancer Without Starving Yourself by author Jane McLelland. Jane wrote this personal account of how she used a combination of Metformin and other ‘old’ drugs after cervical cancer spread to her lungs. She has been in remission since 2004 and still takes Metformin.
Another case is Mary Nike, from the UK, who was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer in 2014. In an interview she stated ‘All the specialists are amazed that my cancer hasn’t spread. I think metformin is crucial.’
In yet another case, Joanne Myatt was initially treated for breast cancer in 2006, but three years ago the disease returned to her liver and bones. She started taking metformin (in addition to conventional treatment) ‘and there’s been some shrinkage of the tumour in my liver’.
Diabetes Drug Effective Against Cancer
Numerous clinical studies indicate that Metformin is associated not only with decreased incidence of cancer (specifically in diabetic populations), but also with the better outcomes for cancer patients. Additional Metformin cancer research is needed to conclusively determine the benefits of this drug for cancer patients.
Cancer specialist Karol Sikora, dean of medicine at the University of Buckingham says: ‘Metformin does slow down tumour growth and gives a survival benefit of a few months, which is comparable to a lot of the £100,000 cancer drugs.’
This information is not medical advice and is certainly not intended to replace the advice or attention of your personal physician or other healthcare professional. Therefore, consult your doctor or healthcare professional before making any changes to your diet or starting a supplement program.
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