A diabetes drug called Metformin was found to have the potential to cut cancer death risks, a new study has found.

The association between the type 2 diabetes medicine and risk of cancer death was particularly seen among postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes.

More specifically, the team found that women with both cancer and type 2 diabetes have a 45 percent more chance of dying from cancer than those who have cancer but does not have diabetes.

A striking finding though is that women with cancer, who took Metformin for type 2 diabetes treatment had the same risk of dying as those without diabetes at all.

"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.

Study lead author Zhihong Gong from Roswell Park Cancer Institute in New York says the results may provide evidence that it may be more beneficial to use metformin as type 2 diabetes treatment than other drugs for postmenopausal women who have cancer.

Finding An Association

The team analyzed data of almost 146,000 postmenopausal women aged between 50 and 79 years old from 1993 to 1998.

The participants had a 25 to 35 percent risk of developing colon and endometrial cancers, as well as non-Hodgkin lymphoma. This risk is more than twice for cancers of the liver and pancreas.

Gong says these results suggest that diabetes is still a risk factor for cancer and cancer-associated death. Another notable finding is that Metformin therapy may have a more significant role in managing diabetes-associated cancers than other anti-diabetes treatments.

Things To Consider

Although the study yielded interesting results that may provide a promising basis for future treatments, it is not high time to get absolutely excited, yet.

Dr. Joel Zonszein from Montefiore Medical Center in New York says the study showed that the effects depend on the long-term administration of the drug. He adds that the exact mechanism of Metformin remains unknown.

Gong agreed, saying that the study was not able to prove that Metformin really prevents or reduces cancer deaths. What's certain is that they found an association.

Ultimately, further studies are needed to ascertain the potential role of the drug to cancer death risk.

The report was published in the International Journal of Cancer on April 15.

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