Saturday, October 27, 2018

Is metformin a miracle drug?

Along with 120 million close friends around the world, I take metformin for diabetes. Apparently, I will live forever. My goats, however, are doomed.

Metformin is a refined herbal medicine derived from a flower called French lilac (Galega officinalis). 
In Europe, French lilac is also called “Goat’s Rue,” because goats don’t like it — it lowers their blood sugar too much. It has been used as diabetes medicine by healers for centuries. 
French diabetologist Jean Sterne was the first to try metformin on humans for the treatment of diabetes. He coined the name “Glucophage” (glucose eater) for the drug and published his results in 1957. It was officially approved for use in Canada in 1972, but not in the US until 1995.
But it's good for a lot more. Dr. Sharon Orrange, Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of Geriatric, Hospitalist and General Internal Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, writes:
1) Improved male fertility
Metformin improves sperm motility and reproductive function in males with diabetes. Additionally, in labs, incubating sperm with metformin increases their ability to fertilize eggs after cryopreservation (freezing during sperm donation). 
2) Improved female fertility
In patients with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), adding metformin to clomiphene increases the chances for women with unexplained infertility to conceive compared to using clomiphene alone. 
3) Longer lifespan
It is now widely accepted that metformin prolongs lifespan and improves immunity…in mice. Does metformin increase lifespan in humans? We don’t know yet, but metformin, which reduces blood sugar and insulin levels by improving insulin sensitivity, has been shown in rodents to extend lifespan and prevent cancers from forming. 
4) Colon cancer prevention and treatment
Benefits of metformin for the prevention and treatment of colorectal cancer have been shown in several studies. Metformin improves overall survival rates of diabetic patients with colorectal cancer.

5) Prostate cancer treatment
A very recent study in mice with prostate cancer found that adding metformin to traditional chemotherapy inhibited cancer progression. This could mean that metformin may add some benefit to androgen deprivation therapies like Lupron during prostate cancer treatment in humans. 
6) Ovarian cancer treatment
Metformin has shown anti-tumor effects when used in the treatment of ovarian cancer. 
7) Enhanced gut bacteria 
Recent studies have revealed that metformin influences the gut microbiome, the good bacteria that live in our gut. In fact, many believe metformin helps with weight loss by altering the composition of the gut bacteria. 
8) Dementia prevention
People with diabetes who take metformin have been shown to have a lower risk of dementia than those who take other diabetes medications, like glipizide or glyburide.
Here's more on metformin from the National Institutes of Health.

You might want to think about coming down with diabetes.

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