Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Solving the mystery of an old diabetes drug that may reduce cancer risk

Date:
January 19, 2012
Source:
McGill University
Summary:
Researchers now report on how the diabetes drug metformin potentially reduces cancer risk.

In 2005, news first broke that researchers in Scotland found unexpectedly low rates of cancer among diabetics taking metformin, a drug commonly prescribed to patients with Type II diabetes. Many follow-up studies reported similar findings, some suggesting as much as a 50-per-cent reduction in risk.

Related Articles


How could this anti-diabetic drug reduce the risk of developing cancer and what were the mechanisms involved?

In a paper published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, researchers from McGill University and the University of Montreal reported an unexpected finding: they learned that exposure to metformin reduces the cellular mutation rate and the accumulation of DNA damage. It is well known that such mutations are directly involved in carcinogenesis, but lowering cancer risk by inhibiting the mutation rate has never been shown to be feasible.

"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 -- these latest findings suggest that it reduces mutation rate in somatic cells, providing an additional mechanism by which it could prevent cancer, explained Dr. Michael Pollak, professor in McGill's Departments of Medicine and Oncology, researcher at the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research at the Jewish General Hospital and the study's director.

The study, carried out in collaboration with the laboratory of Dr. Gerardo Ferbeyre at Universitι de Montrιal's Department of Biochemistry, suggests that metformin reduces DNA damage by reducing levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS are known to be DNA-damaging agents produced as by-products when cells generate energy from nutrients. This action appears to take place in mitochondria, the cellular organelles that produce energy in cells by "burning" nutrients. Past studies have identified the mitochondria as a site of action for metformin related to its anti-diabetic function, but those studies had not considered that the drug also acted here to reduce ROS production, thereby reducing the rate at which DNA damage accumulates. "We found that metformin did not act as a classic antioxidant," said Ferbeyre. "The drug seems to selectively prevent ROS production from altered mitochondria such as those found in cells with oncogenic mutations."

"This study opens an exciting new direction in cancer-prevention research," said Pollak. "This doesn't imply, however, that metformin is now ready to be widely used for cancer prevention. We do not yet know if the drug accumulates to sufficient concentrations in human tissues at risk for cancer, such as breast or colon, when taken at the usual doses used for diabetes treatment, nor do we know if the findings from the original studies showing reduced cancer risk, which were carried out in diabetics, also apply to people without diabetes. But the possibility of protecting DNA from oxidative damage by the use of a well-tolerated drug was not expected, and this topic now needs further study at many levels."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by McGill University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Carolyn Algire, Olga Moiseeva, Xavier Deschenes-Simard, Lilian Amrein, Luca A Petruccelli, Elena Birman, Benoit Viollet, Gerardo Ferbeyre, and Michael N Pollak. Metformin reduces endogenous reactive oxygen species and associated DNA damage. Cancer Prev Res;, January 18, 2012 DOI: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-11-0536

Cite This Page:

McGill University. "Solving the mystery of an old diabetes drug that may reduce cancer risk." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 January 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120118132334.htm>.
McGill University. (2012, January 19). Solving the mystery of an old diabetes drug that may reduce cancer risk. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120118132334.htm
McGill University. "Solving the mystery of an old diabetes drug that may reduce cancer risk." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120118132334.htm (accessed December 17, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

AFP (Dec. 17, 2014) — Border closures, quarantines and crop losses in West African nations battling the Ebola virus could lead to as many as one million people going hungry, UN food agencies said on Wednesday. Duration: 00:52 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) — Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flu Outbreak Closing Schools in Ohio

Flu Outbreak Closing Schools in Ohio

AP (Dec. 17, 2014) — A wave of flu illnesses has forced some Ohio schools to shut down over the past week. State officials confirmed one pediatric flu-related death, a 15-year-old girl in southern Ohio. (Dec. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) — Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins