A fresh study into the connection between diabetes drug Metformin and cancer risks has discovered that the exposure of this drug may help prevent against cancer.
Previous studies concluded that the Metformin drug, commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes, helps prevent cancer by lowering glucose levels in the blood therefore restricting the tumours voracious appetite for glucose, which helps it develop.
Scientists believe that this inadvertently blocks cancer developing or spreading.
However, although the new study acknowledges this theory, they made another discovery: Metformin reduces cell mutation rates and protects from DNA cell damage that can lead to cancer.
“It is remarkable that metformin, an inexpensive, off-patent, safe and widely used drug, has several biological actions that may result in reduced cancer risk,” says Dr Michael Pollack from the study.
“Surprisingly, we found that Metformin protected DNA from mutations.”
Explaining the discovery, Pollack explains that cells burn nutrients to produce energy and it’s the burning process that produces a “cellular exhaust” that causes damage to the DNA inside the cells, which can trigger cancer.
The Metformin drug acts like a cellular “exhaust filter” by reducing the reactive oxygen being created by the burning process of the cells.
“The drug seems to selectively prevent (the cellular exhaust) production ... such as those found in cells with oncogenic mutations,” says Gerardo Ferbeyre, who co-authored the study, published in the Cancer Prevention Research Journal.