Diabetes Drug Metformin Shows Promise for Treating Prostate Cancer
Metformin, a drug that treats diabetes, has recently shown promising breakthroughs in the treatment of prostate cancer. Metformin, when used alone or with other medications, is sometimes used to treat Type 2 diabetes. It allows the body to control the amount of glucose in the bloodstream by decreasing the amount of sugar that is absorbed when one eats. Coming in a liquid, tablet or extended release tablet, metformin is typically prescribed to be taken one or two times a day with food. Doctors do not prescribe metformin to treat Type 1 diabetes.
Initial research showed that metformin can shrink prostate tumors by slowing the rate at which the tumor cells grow. If these results persist, this could be a significant form of treatment in prostate cancer patients.
Prostate cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths in those who are over 75. The risk of getting prostate cancer is high in African American males, men over 60 and those who drink too much alcohol or have a diet that is high in fat. While this form of cancer can develop in other men, it is rarely found in men under 40 years of age.
Symptoms associated with prostate cancer tend to be a delay in urination, blood in the urine, straining when urinating and/or bone pain or tenderness, particularly in the lower back region. Treatment for prostate cancer is generally radiation therapy, surgery and chemotherapy, yet with the potential that metformin has shown recently, that could become a significant form of treatment for the horrible disease.
Many studies on metformin have highlighted that the drug has many effects, but the most interesting and one that has warranted further investigation is its ability to stunt the growth of cancerous cells within tumors. These results have generated considerable excitement among scientists with regard to new treatments for those suffering from prostate cancer. In a study performed in Toronto, Canada, 22 men were given metformin and scientists noticed that cancer cell growth in their prostates had been stunted. These 22 individuals were scheduled to undergo surgery to have their prostate glands removed. Prior to their surgery, scientists gave them each 500 mg of metformin three times a day to try and determine how potent the diabetes drug was on keeping the cancerous cell growth at bay.
The results of this experiment were presented to the American Association for Cancer Research meeting in Chicago, and showed that the cells had indeed grown at a slower rate. While these were initial results, the results were nonetheless astonishing given the use of metformin at the time. The results found in the study of the 22 men in Toronto have prompted other studies on metformin and its effects on prostate cancer patients. The results allow for a significant case to be built on the effectiveness of the drug and its ability to reduce the overall growth of tumors. Metformin appears to be the next new treatment in shrinking prostate cancer cells in those with the disease.