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Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Sep;24(9):469-80. doi: 10.1016/j.tem.2013.05.004. Epub 2013 Jun 15.

Repositioning metformin for cancer prevention and treatment.

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Department of Oncology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21224, USA.


Metformin is the most commonly prescribed drug for type 2 diabetes (T2DM). Retrospective studies show that metformin is associated with decreased cancer risk. This historical correlation has driven vigorous research campaigns to determine the anticancer mechanisms of metformin. Consolidating the preclinical data is a challenge because unanswered questions remain concerning relevant mechanisms, bioavailability, and genetic factors that confer metformin sensitivity. Perhaps the most important unanswered question is whether metformin has activity against cancer in non-diabetics. In this review we highlight the proposed mechanisms of metformin action in cancer and discuss ongoing clinical trials with metformin in cancer. Improved understanding of these issues will increase the chances for successful application of metformin as an inexpensive, well-tolerated, and effective anticancer agent.


AMPK; cancer; chemoprevention; diabetes; metformin

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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