According to a study reported on in May 2018 in the journal Thyroid, metformin, a medication commonly used to help people with newly diagnosed Type 2 diabetes look after their blood sugar levels, also helps prevent cancer of the thyroid. Scientists at the Gyeongsang National University and several other research institutions in the Republic of Korea found fewer cases of thyroid cancer in those people who had been prescribed metformin than in non-users. It was also found higher doses of the diabetic medication was associated with a lower risk of developing cancer in the thyroid.

The researchers compared 128,453 metformin users with the same number of non-users for new cases of thyroid cancer. The users were divided into the…

  • lowest,
  • middle, and
  • highest amounts

of metformin prescribed and taken. New cases of cancer in the thyroid were reported in…

  • 340 users, and
  • 487 non-users

over a period of approximately seven years. This means the users had a 31 percent lower risk of developing cancer than non-users. Those who were taking the highest doses of metformin and those taking the drug for the most extended amount of time had lower rates of thyroid cancer than those taking lower doses and those who had started taking the medication more recently.

From the above information it was concluded the oral diabetic medication, metformin, lowered the risk of developing cancer in the thyroid. It was suggested the medication be used for both its blood sugar-lowering effects as well as its anti-cancer effects.

Metformin works to lower blood sugar levels by lowering the amount of sugar absorbed in the digestive tract, decreasing the amount of sugar released by the liver, and increasing insulin sensitivity…

  • in 2009 insulin resistance was shown to be frequently present in those diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
  • in 2017 it was suggested the rise in insulin resistance worldwide could be the cause of rising numbers of thyroid cancer cases.

In 2017 the International Journal of Endocrinology reported on a study showing an increased number of thyroid tumors in those with insulin resistance. Scientists at Tianjin Medical University in China found…

  • higher insulin resistance in a group of 201 participants who had thyroid bumps than in a group of 308 individuals without thyroid bumps.
  • the individuals with the highest level of insulin resistance had the largest thyroid bumps.

Lowering insulin resistance could give metformin a dual role in treating Type 2 diabetes and in preventing thyroid cancer.

In March 2018, Science Direct reported the diabetic medication also helps DNA repair, another possible mechanism for preventing cancer. The drug is under investigation for treating or helping to prevent…

  • uterine,
  • pancreatic, and
  • breast cancer

as well.

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