Researchers performed these tests on mesothelioma cells in a laboratory. It remains to be seen whether metformin will have similar effects in mesothelioma patients.
Study Results Add to Known Anti-Cancer Effects of Metformin
Although these findings for mesothelioma are new, metformin’s anti-cancer effects are well established in other cancers. These newer results contribute to a decade of research demonstrating metformin’s cancer-fighting abilities.
Prior metformin and cancer studies have reported the following:
- Breast cancer: Metformin may extend the time it takes for cancer to come back when added to traditional treatment.
- Colorectal cancer: Metformin is linked to improved survival. It may also extend the time it takes for cancer to come back.
- Prostate cancer: Metformin is linked to improved survival. It may also extend the time it takes for cancer to come back.
Metformin has also been studied in lung cancer. Like mesothelioma, lung cancer can be caused by asbestos exposure. This might allow metformin to have similar effects in both cancers.
Real Life Data Shows Metformin Fights Lung Cancer
Metformin may offer substantial benefits for lung cancer patients. Studies show metformin may provide the following for people with lung cancer:
- Improved overall survival: Metformin prolonged survival in patients who took the drug after diagnosis.
- Improved progression-free survival: Metformin extended the time between treatment and cancer progression.
Evidence also suggests metformin may reduce a person’s risk of developing lung cancer. Researchers do not know if the drug has similar effects in mesothelioma, but there is reason to hope.
Asbestos can cause lung cancer or pleural mesothelioma. Asbestos fibers may trigger similar processes in causing both cancers. If so, it is possible that a lung cancer-fighting drug might also fight mesothelioma.
Study Data Could Lead to a Novel Mesothelioma Treatment
The Italian study raises the possibility that metformin may fight mesothelioma. Their research is preliminary, but it agrees with earlier data demonstrating the anti-cancer properties of the drug.
The study authors say their results “could lead to a novel therapy” for malignant mesothelioma. Researchers may test metformin in mesothelioma clinical trials before this happens. If the trials go well, future patients may see metformin offered as a mesothelioma treatment option.