Diabetes Pill (Metformin) Improves Survival in Patients with Deadly Pancreatic Cancer





 

New research suggests that the diabetes medication metformin significantly improves survival in patients with deadly pancreatic cancer.



 

 

DIABETES PILL (METFORMIN) IMPROVES SURVIVAL IN PATIENTS WITH DEADLY PANCREATIC CANCER

Despite the many recent advances in cancer treatment, pancreatic cancer remains one of the most lethal of all forms of cancer.  An aggressive form of cancer which frequently spreads before patients are even aware that they have the disease, pancreatic cancer remains highly resistant to cure even with aggressive surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.  As I discuss in my bestselling book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, diabetes is a known risk factor for pancreatic cancer (as are obesity and smoking).  In my book, I also discuss preliminary research evidence suggesting that metformin, a common oral medication used to treat diabetes, may actually have anti-cancer properties in diabetic patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer (and, perhaps, in other types of cancer, and in non-diabetic patients, as well).  Now, another newly published clinical research study adds further weight to the hypothesis that metformin may indeed improve survival among diabetic patients diagnosed with this dreaded form of cancer.  This new study appears in the current issue of the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

In this study, the outcomes of 302 patients with pancreatic cancer were studied.  Among these patients, 117 were taking metformin, while 185 patients were not taking metformin for their diabetes.  In this retrospective clinical study, the two-year survival rate among the patients taking metformin was 30 percent, while the two-year survival among the patients receiving other types of treatment for their diabetes was only 15 percent.  In fact, the patients who took metformin experienced a 36 percent overall lower risk of death when compared to the patients who were not taking metformin for their diabetes.  (Of note, metformin appeared to prolong life only in those pancreatic cancer patients with cancers that had not yet spread, or metastasized, outside of the pancreas.)

A major limitation of this study is, of course, its retrospective nature.  However, there are currently over 100 ongoing prospective clinical research trials looking at the use of metformin in pancreatic cancer, as well as in colorectal cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, and other types of cancer (and in both diabetic and non-diabetic cancer patients).  Based upon the available, and encouraging, retrospective data linking metformin with increased survival among pancreatic cancer patients (including the data reported by this study), I have started to selectively place some of my pancreatic cancer patients on metformin, in addition to their other standard pancreatic cancer therapies, given the dismal outcomes typically associated with this form of cancer.  I will, therefore, be very interested to see the results of ongoing prospective, randomized metformin clinical studies in patients with pancreatic cancer, once this data becomes available.

As metformin is a prescription drug used, specifically, to treat diabetes, this medication should only be prescribed by your physician for the treatment of diabetes at this time.


For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionVroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.




Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


 

Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


 

I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  (More than 1.3 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious people who visited Weekly Health Update in 2011!)  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.

 


 




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Metformin, Diabetes and Death

 

Welcome to Weekly Health Update



“A critical weekly review of important new research findings for health-conscious readers”


METFORMIN, DIABETES AND DEATH

Metformin is a diabetes medication that is of great interest to me, and to other cancer specialists, because of intriguing research data suggesting that it may reduce the risk of cancer occurrence and cancer recurrence in people with diabetes.  (Diabetes is, itself, a risk factor for certain types of cancer, including one of the most lethal of all cancers, pancreatic cancer.)

Metformin has been shown to be particularly beneficial in reducing the risk of death due to the complications of diabetes in overweight and obese patients, who are especially prone to developing diabetes.  However, there has been some concern regarding the potential safety of metformin in patients with preexisting cardiovascular disease and kidney disease, and so this first-line diabetes medication has not been extensively prescribed to diabetic patients with these diseases.  (Somewhat ironically, cardiovascular disease and kidney disease are, themselves, known complications of diabetes.)  For this reason, the clinical research study that I will be discussing in today’s column is especially important to the estimated 24 million patients in the United States, alone, who have diabetes, and to the hundreds of thousands of diabetic patients who have already developed cardiovascular disease and kidney disease in the US. 

This newly published study, which appears in the current issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, reports on the results of the massive Reduction of Atherothrombosis for Continued Health (REACH) Study, which included 19,691 patients with documented diabetes.  (The researchers involved in the REACH Study have been following this huge number of patient volunteers since they enlisted in the study between December 2003 and December 2004.) 

The findings of this very large prospective public health study validate the findings of smaller prior clinical studies.  In this study, diabetic patients with cardiovascular disease were significantly less likely to die during the course of this study if they took metformin instead of other diabetes medications (or no diabetes medication at all).  The patients in this study who took metformin were 24 percent less likely to die when compared to the diabetic patients who did not take metformin.  Among patients with congestive heart failure, which has until recently has been considered a contraindication to taking metformin, the use of metformin was associated with a 31 percent reduction in death due to all causes.  Moreover, patients with other health conditions that have previously thought to preclude diabetes treatment with metformin also appeared to benefit from metformin in this study.  Diabetic patients with cardiovascular disease who were older than 65 years were 23 percent less likely to die if they took metformin, while patients with decreased kidney function (estimated creatinine clearance of 30 to 60 ml/minute) experienced a whopping 36 percent decrease in the risk of death if they took metformin. 

As this was an observational study (i.e., there were no randomized groups of patients, and there was no placebo-control group), it should be urgently followed with a prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical research study to confirm these highly important clinical findings.  Taken together, however, the findings of this pivotal public health study are certain to eventually expand the number of patients with diabetes who will be considered eligible to receive metformin! 

 

For a complete discussion of metformin as a potential cancer prevention agent, as well as other important evidence-based approaches to cancer prevention, order your copy of my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, now!  For the price of a cheeseburger, fries, and a shake, you can purchase this landmark new book, and begin living an evidence-based cancer prevention lifestyle today!

  

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GIVE  THE  GIFT  OF  HEALTH  THIS  HOLIDAY  SEASON!  For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Vroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores! 

On Thanksgiving Day, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com Top 100 Bestseller’s List for Kindle e-books!




Disclaimer: As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity



Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, a professor of surgery, a cancer researcher, an oncology consultant, and a widely published author



For a different perspective on Dr. Wascher, please click on the following YouTube link: 

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I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people, from around the world, who visit this premier global health information website every month.  (As of 9/16/2010, more than 1,000,000 health-conscious people have logged onto Weekly Health Update so far this year!)  As always, I enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 

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