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Oops I Did it Again

Oct 11, 2016

O

ops, I did it again – I know that is the title of a Britney Spears song. I have no idea what the lyrics are to the song or what the theme is but I thought it was an appropriate title for my blog today. Allow me to explain.

Working for a large university system has some advantages, such as weekly Lunch and Learn sessions. Last week I attended a session on frailty – I do admit my primary objective in attending was the incredible chicken salad sandwiches they serve from a local deli, but I sat up straight in my chair and paid very close attention when the presenter shared with us her new study looking at Metformin preventing frailty. I did not take paper for notes but I recall her saying they hypothesize it has something to do with Metformin affecting the AMPK, which according to Wikipedia is an enzyme that plays a role in cellular energy homeostasis. It is found in a number of tissues, including the liver, brain and skeletal muscle. 

My first thought was – another use for Metformin?! WOW.

A recent article in Medical News Today regarding a study from the University of Melbourne in Australia suggesting Metformin has potential to prevent or treat preeclampsia – a life threatening complication of pregnancy. This follows an earlier article from 2007 published in Diabetes Spectrum which looked at Metformin being the “magic bullet” for polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).


My first thought was - another use for Metformin?!? WOW.


A colleague of mine was doing a similar study around the same time looking at Metformin for PCOS. We spent a lot of time together while I explained diabetes to her and she explained PCOS to me. A more recent article from the Center for Young Women’s Health from this year notes that Metformin is a medication that is often prescribed for women with PCOS to help prevent diabetes. This is not my area of expertise, but interesting as it is related to Metformin.

Another area of interest is the role of Metformin in preventing cancer. The National Cancer Institute published a paper addressing this relationship. Earlier this year theUniversity of Pennsylvania School of Medicine reported the results of a study which showed survival benefit for some breast cancer patients who took Metformin. This correlation does have some controversy and additional research is ongoing. 

An article published in Diabetes in Control in July of this year stated that “the diabetes drug (Metformin) may have a beneficial effect on neurodegenerative diseases.” The article goes on to explain that Metformin may be helpful in Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and other degenerative brain cell diseases. This article reports that in an animal study it was found that Metformin helped neurogenesis and enhanced hippocampus.

Although type 2 diabetes doubles the risk of having dementia, some studies are showing that Metformin helps reduce that risk. The article does mention that Metformin needs to be used for a longer period of time (it did not say how long that might be) before a drastic reduction in neurodegenerative disease and neuroprotective nature is observed. 

Bottom line – Metformin can use Britney’s line “Oops, it did it again” when looking at all the positive things it is being linked to. Metformin might be our new Wonder Drug of the 21st century.


Barbara WalzAbout the Author

Barbara Walz is an RN, BSN and has been a certified diabetes educator since 1986. Since 2000, Barbara has coordinated a multi-site diabetes study examining the macro-vascular effects of diabetes at the South Texas Veterans’ Healthcare System under the supervision of Dr. Ralph DeFronzo.

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