A new study has shown that a common diabetes medication may be useful in the prevention or treatment of ovarian cancer. The study, published in the journal CANCER, showed that patients with ovarian cancer who took the drug metformin tended to live longer than patients who did not.
Metformin comes from the French Lilac plant and is used to treat type 2 diabetes. Previous studies had suggested that the drug could have anticancer properties. Researchers stated that there is a desperate need for new ovarian cancer treatments.
The study looked at 61 patients with ovarian cancer who took metformin and 178 who did not. Of those patients who took metformin, 67% had not died from their cancer withing 5 years, while only 47% those who did not take the drug survived over the same period. When taking into account factors such as cancer severity and the patients' body mass index, the researchers stated that patients on metformin were 3.7 times more likely to survive ovarian cancer during the trial.
"This study opens the door for using metformin in large-scale randomized trials in ovarian cancer which can ultimately lead to metformin being one option for treatment of patients with the disease," said Viji Shridhar, co-author of the study and a researcher at the Mayo Clinic.
Trials are already underway in the treatment of breast cancer using metformin.
"We think that ovarian cancer research needs to follow that example," said Dr. Sanjeev Kumar another co-author of the study.