Diabetes drugs may help control lung cancer: Study

Commonly used diabetes drugs such as metformin may help control lung cancer and may help prevent it completely, patients who had taken drugs to control diabetes were much less likely to have lung cancer spread, researcher found.

According to latest Health study, medicine named metformin, an older and cheaper drug available generically, had a more powerful effect than newer drugs called thiazolidinediones, TZDs or glitazones.

“Our study, as well as other research, suggests an association between metformin and/or TZD use and the risk of developing lung cancer,” said Dr. Peter who led the study.

“However, unique to this study, we have been able to report less advanced cancer in those who do develop cancer, a decreased frequency of squamous cell and small cell carcinomas, and improved survival, when controlled for stage, in people taking metformin and/or TZDs.”

The team reviewed the medical records of 157 lung cancer survivors with diabetes.

Those who had taken either a metformin drug or a TZD were significantly less likely to have advanced lung cancer that had spread — 20 percent of those who took the drugs had tumors that had spread, versus 42 percent of those who had not.

“The initial trend we have seen is toward metformin being more protective than TZDs,” one of the participants of the study Mazzone said.

TZDs include Glaxo SmithKline’s Avandia, known generically as rosiglitazone, and rival drug Actos, or pioglitazone, made by Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd.

Mazzone said it may be possible one day to use metformin to prevent lung cancer in smokers.

“This new information adds to the growing body of evidence that metformin may help prevent and inhibit the progression of lung cancer,” he added.