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Should Non-diabetics Use Diabetes Drugs?

Aug 15, 2014

A study involving over 180,000 people showed that patients treated with metformin can live longer than non-diabetics…. 

Craig Currie, professor at Cardiff University’s school of medicine said, "What we found was illuminating. Patients treated with metformin had a small but statistically significant improvement in survival compared with the cohort of non-diabetics, whereas those treated with sulfonylureas had a consistently reduced survival compared with non-diabetic patients. This was true even without any clever statistical manipulation."

"Surprisingly," he adds, "the findings indicate that this cheap and widely prescribed diabetic drug may have beneficial effects not only on patients with diabetes but also for people without, and interestingly, people with type 1 diabetes. Metformin has been shown to have anti-cancer and anti-cardiovascular disease benefits. It can also reduce pre-diabetics’ chances of developing the disease by a third."

"Their disease will progress and they will be typically switched to more aggressive treatments. People lose on average around eight years from their life expectancy after developing diabetes," Currie noted. The best way to avoid the condition altogether is by keeping moderately lean and taking some regular light exercise, he advised.

The researchers compared all-cause mortality in diabetic patients treated with either sulfonylurea or metformin with matched individuals without diabetes including age, gender, same general practice, smoking status and clinical status criteria.

A total of 78,241 subjects treated with metformin, 12,222 treated with sulphonylurea were identified, together with 90,463 subjects without diabetes who were matched to their respective cases.

Practice Pearls:
  • Metformin could increase the lifespan of those individuals who are non-diabetics.
  • Metformin decreases the amount of glucose you absorb from your food and the amount of glucose made by your liver
  • Metformin has been shown to have anti-cancer and anti-cardiovascular disease benefits

Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, Aug. 2014