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Metformin and reduced risk of cancer in diabetic patients

Metformin, widely given to patients with type 2 diabetes, works by targeting the enzyme AMPK (AMP activated protein kinase), which induces muscles to take up glucose from the blood. A recent breakthrough has found the upstream regulator of AMPK to be a protein kinase known as LKB1. LKB1 is a well recognised tumour suppressor. Activation of AMPK by metformin and exercise requires LKB1, and this would also explain why exercise is beneficial in the primary and secondary prevention of certain cancers.We hypothesise that metformin use in patients with type 2 diabetes may reduce their risk of cancer.

Published on 09-08-2010
Authors: Josie M M Evans, Louise A Donnelly, Alistair M Emslie-Smith, Dario R Alessi, Andrew D Morris
Source: BMJ 2005; 330 : 1304 doi: 10.1136/bmj.38415.708634.F7 (Published 22 April 2005)