Diabetes drug may help patients survive ovarian cancer, Mayo study finds

A recent Mayo Clinic study reveals that diabetes and ovarian cancer have a confirmed, common adversary in the drug metformin, oft referred to by its industry guise — Glucophage.  

One derivative of French lilacs, the diabetes prescriptive staple — typically administered to those with type 2 diabetes who have low blood sugar — has shown that it can help ovarian cancer patients survive longer if included as a part of treatment regimens. Mayo researchers found specifically that patients who took metformin (61 patients) in conjunction with other cancer-fighting tactics were four times more likely to survive beyond the five years study period (1995-2010) than those who did not (178 patients). [Please view Figure 1 below for study basics.]

Figure 1:

All data and information from the Mayo Clinic. Presentation by PhysBizTech. 

"This study opens the door for using metformin in large-scale randomized trials in ovarian cancer which can ultimately lead to metformin being one option for treatment of patients with the disease," said Sanjeev Kumar, MD, Mayo Clinic researcher and co-leader of the study, in a news release.

Trials of the sort are currently underway in breast cancer. "We think that ovarian cancer research needs to follow that example," said Kumar.

Despite the study results pointing in favor of metformin interventions for those battling ovarian cancer, Kumar was quick to clarify for HealthDay that firm recommendations for utilizing the medication are a long way off.

"We don't have sufficient evidence that patients with ovarian cancer should be on metformin. This is a study that forms a hypothesis, but patients should wait until large-scale randomized trials are conducted," Kumar said.

Metformin has a history of anticancer properties with cancers affecting the prostate, colon, pancreas, brain and breasts as well. The Mayo Clinic’s study in its entirety can be found in the Dec. 3 edition of the journal Cancer.