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Diabetes medicine may benefit cancer patients

pillsWith more than 22,000 ovarian cancer diagnoses every year, finding treatment options is important. Currently, fighting the disease often involves chemotherapy, radiation therapy and possibly a hysterectomy. But new research suggests that a common diabetes medication, metformin, may increase the survival of women with ovarian cancer. Metformin is a medication that’s used to lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

The study evaluated the medical records of women with ovarian cancer who were diagnosed between 1995 and 2010. In their analysis, the researchers used a control group of 178 women who did not take metformin before their diagnosis and 61 who did. Out of the control group, 47 percent of women survived five years after their diagnosis; 67 percent of women taking metformin survived that same period. 

Researchers aren’t quite sure why, but they believe the improved outcomes may be linked to the fact that metformin lowers blood sugar levels and increases insulin sensitivity, which are two factors associated with cancer growth. More research is needed before recommending metformin as a cancer treatment, but if you are have ovarian cancer and diabetes or pre-diabetes, talk with your doctor about whether you might benefit from this medication.