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Diabetologia. 2017 Sep;60(9):1639-1647. doi: 10.1007/s00125-017-4372-6. Epub 2017 Aug 3.

Repurposing metformin for the prevention of cancer and cancer recurrence.

Author information

1
Division of Cancer Prevention, National Cancer Institute, 9609 Medical Center Drive, Bethesda, MD, 20892, USA. heckmanbm@mail.nih.gov.
2
Division of Medical Oncology, Ente Ospedaliero Ospedali Galliera, Genoa, Italy.
3
Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK.
4
Division of Cancer Prevention, National Cancer Institute, 9609 Medical Center Drive, Bethesda, MD, 20892, USA.

Abstract

Multiple epidemiological studies have documented an association between metformin, used for treatment of type 2 diabetes, and reduced cancer incidence and mortality. Cell line models may not accurately reflect the effects of metformin in the clinical setting. Moreover, findings from animal model studies have been inconsistent, whilst those from more recent epidemiological studies have tempered the overall effect size. The purpose of this review is to examine metformin's chemopreventive potential by outlining relevant mechanisms of action, the most recent epidemiologic evidence, and recently completed and ongoing clinical trials. Although repurposing drugs with excellent safety profiles is an appealing strategy for cancer prevention and treatment in the adjuvant setting, there is no substitute for well-executed, large randomised clinical trials to define efficacy and determine the populations that are most likely to benefit from an intervention. Thus, enthusiasm remains for understanding the role of metformin in cancer through ongoing clinical research.

KEYWORDS:

Cancer; Cancer prevention; Cancer recurrence; Chemoprevention; Metformin; Review

PMID:
28776080
PMCID:
PMC5709147
DOI:
10.1007/s00125-017-4372-6
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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