Type 2 diabetes medication may reduce cancer risk

Numerous studies have shown that individuals with type 2 diabetes are significantly more likely to develop certain forms of cancer. In particular, colon cancer is common among those with the metabolic condition.

However, a new study from a group of Chinese researchers shows that a common medication used to manage blood sugar levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes may also reduce the risk of developing colon cancer.

Researchers from Shanghai Jiao Tong University found that type 2 diabetes patients treated with metformin were 37 percent less likely to develop colon cancer than individuals treated with other medications. The team reached this conclusion after analyzing the results of five previously conducted studies involving more than 100,000 diabetic patients.

Metformin is used to increase the amount of glucose that is absorbed by the body and limits the quantity of glucose produced by the liver.

The findings confirm results from other studies, which have shown that metformin may have tumor-suppressing properties. The medication has been shown to reduce a person's overall cancer risk to a significant degree.

Reasons for this are not exactly known, but the researchers said studies have shown the medication activates a gene that has been associated with tumor suppression. Regardless of the specific reason, the team said individuals with type 2 diabetes may benefit from talking to their doctor about starting a metformin therapy.

The medication may represent a simple method for simultaneously controlling blood sugar levels and reducing cancer risk. Given the fact that individuals with type 2 diabetes are so much more likely to develop tumors, this could come as a significant benefit.