A new study by scientists in Montreal has claimed that the common diabetes drug metformin could help to prevent colon cancer in patients at high risk of developing the disease. Metformin, taken to treat type 2 diabetes, has previously been found to reduce cancer rates by up to 40 per cent in diabetics taking the drug as compared to patients who do not take it.
The research, carried out at McGill University and the Université de Montréal and published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, found that the drug was able to protect cells from damage to DNA that can lead to cancer. The drug was shown to act as a cellular exhaust filter, where nutrients are burned off and energy is produced, and to lower reactive oxygen species. It is the exhaust that can result in DNA damage inside cells, leading to cancer.
Previous studies have also claimed that it was how the drug acts to reduce blood sugar levels that could be helping it fight against the onset of cancer.
Director of the study, Michael Pollak, commented “Surprisingly, we found that metformin protected DNA from mutations.”
He added “It is remarkable that metformin – an inexpensive, off-patent, safe and widely used drug – has several biological actions that may result in reduced cancer risk.”

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