Overweight teenagers diagnosed with type 1 diabetes may not benefit from the antidiabetic drug known as metformin when combined with their insulin treatment, according to a new study featured in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Patients who suffer from type 1 diabetes regularly take supplemental insulin to make up for their body's inability to produce the hormone necessary to process glucose (sugar).

Researchers from the group T1D Exchange Clinic Network, however, discovered that the blood sugar lowering drug metformin, which has been shown to have benefits for type 2 diabetics, did not provide any improvement in the glycemic (blood sugar) levels of patients with type 1 diabetes.

The study involved 140 obese and overweight type 1 diabetes patients between 12 years old to 19 years old. Each participant was assigned randomly to receive either metformin pills or a placebo therapy together with their insulin treatment for a total of six months.

The team observed that while there were minor benefits from using the drug early on, these effects eventually disappeared as the research progressed.

Participants who received metformin experienced more instances of gastrointestinal side effects compared to those who did not receive the medication.

The findings of the study suggest that metformin is not recommended for doctors to prescribe to overweight teenagers with type 1 diabetes.

However, endocrinologist Dr. Spyros Mezitis of the Lenox Hill Hospital explained that metformin intake can still provide some benefits to the type 1 diabetes patient when added to ongoing insulin therapy.

He said that metformin was able to help lessen the amount of insulin and yield weight loss benefits for the participants of the study. The drug, however, did not reduce the patients' cholesterol or blood pressure levels.

Mezitis, who was not involved in the T1D Exchange study, added that the use of metformin helps in the reduction of liver-produced glucose, in limiting the body's resistance to insulin and in the reduction of diabetes patients' appetite.

"I think more randomized trials are needed before practicing physicians change their practice of using metformin in adolescent overweight type 1 diabetic patients," Mezitis said.

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