Long-Term Metformin Use Tied to Reduced Cancer Death Risk

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Older women with diabetes and cancer taking metformin saw an increase in survival
Older women with diabetes and cancer taking metformin saw an increase in survival

HealthDay News — Metformin may reduce the risk of dying from some cancers for postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes, according to a study published in the April 15 issue of the International Journal of Cancer.

The study team reviewed data from 145,826 postmenopausal women between the ages of 50 and 79. The information was collected between 1993 and 1998 and came from the Women's Health Initiative study.

Looking at specific cancers, the researchers found that the risk for postmenopausal women with diabetes appeared to be about 25 to 35% higher for developing colon and endometrial cancers and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The women's risk was more than doubled for liver and pancreatic cancers. The investigators also found that for women with type 2 diabetes and cancer, the odds of dying from cancer were higher compared to women with cancer who didn't have diabetes (hazard ratio, 1.46). But, in women with cancer who took metformin to treat their type 2 diabetes, the risk of dying from cancer was reduced, overall, compared to that seen in users of other medications (hazard ratio, 1.08 versus 1.45).

"Metformin users, particularly long-term users, may be at lower risk of developing certain cancers and dying from cancer, compared to users of other anti-diabetes medications," the authors write. "Future studies are needed to determine the long-term effect of metformin in cancer risk and survival from cancer."

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