Diabetes Drug Metformin May Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer

Metformin, a medication commonly used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes, may reduce the risk of breast cancer when used for more than five years, according to a new study published by the American Diabetes Association. The study adds fuel to increasing evidence of metformin's potential anti-cancer effects.

The study, led by Dr. Christoph R. Meier of Switzerland, followed more than 1,000 women in the U.K. using the drug to treat diabetes. Women using metformin for more than five years were at a 56 percent lower risk of breast cancer than those who never took the drug.

The study was relatively small, and while a direct cause and effect link between the drug and the reduced risk has not been established, researchers believe the connection may be related to metformin's actions on a key metabolic enzyme known as AMP-activated protein kinase as well as its insulin-reducing activity.

The study comes just days after researchers at the American Association for Cancer Research presented findings suggesting metformin may lower the risk of lung cancer in smokers.

During its 15 years in use, metformin has become a popular drug for the treatment type 2 diabetes, a condition in which insulin does not properly carry sugar out of the bloodstream and into cells. Metformin helps regulate blood sugar levels and prevent complications in patients with the disease by reducing the amount of glucose absorbed in the stomach and produced in the liver while also enhancing the performance of insulin.

As the evidence for metformin's anti-cancer effects rises, additional studies addressing the medication's potential in cancer reduction are in the works.

Additional information about drugs and drug side effects may be found on Drugwatch.com.

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