A commonly prescribed diabetes drug could offer surprising health benefits to non-diabetics
Patients treated with a drug widely prescribed for type 2 diabetes can live longer than people without the condition, a large-scale study involving over 180,000 people has shown.
The findings indicate that a drug known as metformin, used to control glucose levels in the body and already known to exhibit anticancer properties, could offer prognostic and prophylactic benefits to people without diabetes.
Published in a leading diabetes journal, Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism by scientists from Cardiff University, the study set out to compare the survival of diabetes patients prescribed with metformin with patients prescribed with another common diabetes drug called sulphonylurea.
Importantly, the life expectancy of these cohorts was also compared against non-diabetics who were matched based on criteria that included age, gender, same general practice, smoking status and clinical status.
"What we found was illuminating," said lead author Professor Craig Currie from Cardiff University's School of Medicine.
"Patients treated with metformin had a small but statistically significant improvement in survival compared with the cohort of non-diabetics, whereas those treated with sulphonylureas had a consistently reduced survival compared with non-diabetic patients. This was true even without any clever statistical manipulation.
"Surprisingly, the findings indicate that this cheap and widely prescribed diabetic drug may have beneficial effects not only on patients with diabetes but also for people without, and interestingly, people with type 1 diabetes. Metformin has been shown to have anti-cancer and anti-cardiovascular disease benefits. It can also reduce pre-diabetics' chances of developing the disease by a third.
"This does not mean that people with type 2 diabetes get off Scott free. Their disease will progress and they will be typically switched to more aggressive treatments. People lose on average around eight years from their life expectancy after developing diabetes. The best way to avoid the condition altogether is by keeping moderately lean and taking some regular light exercise."
In the next phase of the research, Professor Currie plans to investigate how patients prescribed with metformin as a first line therapy can best be treated thereafter to ensure that their life expectancy can be brought closer in line with the national average.
Type 2 diabetes affects 8% of the US population and 6% of the UK population.
Effective glucose control in diabetics is important in reducing the risk of microvascular complications such as stroke or coronary artery disease. The stymying of these conditions can initially be achieved through diet and exercise, but glucose lowering medication is required in most patients with progressing diabetes.
Metformin is recommended as first line therapy for type 2 diabetes in the current American Diabetes Association and the European Association for the study of diabetes guidelines. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) also recommend the drug.
Sulphonylureas are commonly prescribed if metformin is deemed by practitioners to be an unsuitable course for treatment. Unlike metformin, sulphonylureas can cause weight gain, hypoglycaemia and an impaired recovery after heart attacks. Conversely, metformin is associated with beneficial effects, including improved cardiac health and an ability to fight the onset of certain cancers.
Data used in study came from the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink, representing around 10% of the UK population, where researchers identified 78,241 patients who were prescribed metformin as a first-line therapy and 12,222 patients prescribed a sulphonylurea as a first-line therapy. These were then each matched against non-diabetic patient.
The study was funded by Bristol Myers-Squibb.
Professor Craig Currie | Eurek Alert!
The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung
A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
20.01.2017 | Awards Funding
20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.01.2017 | Life Sciences