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Metformin use associated with lower mortality risk over 3.9 year median follow-up in diabetic women with cervical cancer

Metformin use associated with lower mortality risk over 3.9 year median follow-up in diabetic women with cervical cancer

The March 2016 issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention reported an association between the use of metformin and a lower risk of mortality from cervical cancer among women diagnosed with the disease.

Kathy Han of Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and her Toronto colleagues utilized health care databases to identify 181 diabetic women aged 66 and older who were diagnosed with cervical cancer from 1997 to 2010. Cumulative metformin dose following diagnosis was calculated by multiplying dose and quantity of tablets dispensed with each prescription until the last follow-up date.

Over a 3.9 year median, a total of 129 deaths occurred, among which 61 were attributed to cervical cancer.  Dr Han's team uncovered a 21.4% lower risk of dying from cervical cancer and a 5% lower risk of all-cause mortality in association with each additional 365 grams of cumulative metformin use.

As potential mechanisms, the authors note that metformin has been found to impact signaling pathways involved in cervical cancer growth, sensitize cancer cells to radiotherapy and decrease tumor hypoxia (low oxygen levels). "Our study is the first to report that cumulative metformin use after cervical cancer diagnosis may be associated with decreased cervical cancer-specific and overall mortality among older women with diabetes," Dr Han and associates announce. "The potential of metformin to improve cervical cancer outcome deserves further interventional studies in depth."

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