According to a large-scale study conducted by researchers at Cardiff University, type 2 diabetes patients treated with metformin live longer than people without the disease.
The surprising benefits of metformin could be expanded for use in non-diabetics.
The study was published in the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism.
Metformin’s attributes had been circulating within the scientific community, and the findings of the Cardiff University study not only build on its benefits but are of particular interest due to the massive sample size of 180,000 participants.
Researchers compared survival rates of type 2 diabetes patients taking metformin, a first-line therapy, with those of patients on a less-prescribed diabetes drug called sulphonylurea, known for undesirable side effects such as weight gain and hypoglycemia.
“What we found was illuminating,” said lead author Prof. Craig Currie from Cardiff University’s School of Medicine.
According to Dr. Craig Currie, patients undergoing metformin treatment exhibited small yet statistically important survival increases by comparison to non-diabetics.
As for those treated with sulphonylureas, their rate of survival was consistently reduced when compared to that of non-diabetics.
Researchers used data from the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink, representing around 10% of the UK population.
They 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.
Each patient was then compared to a non-diabetic.
Patients with type 2 diabetes are often forced to resort to more aggressive treatment options as their disease progresses, so a long life expectancy is no guarantee, although Dr. Craig Currie plans to concoct a long-term treatment plan for diabetics to circumvent this transition.
Metformin is a cheap drug and has exhibited preventative capabilities in the domains of cancer and cardiac disease.
Dr. Craig Currie points out that it can prevent those at risk for diabetes from actually developing the disease and he says his findings indicate that the drug could be beneficial for those with type 1 diabetes.