Metformin is a type of medicine known as a biguanide. This works to lower the amount of sugar in the blood of people with diabetes. It does this by lowering the amount of sugar produced in the liver, and also increasing the sensitivity of muscle cells to insulin. Metformin was introduced as a medication in France in 1957 and the United States in 1995 and since then is the is the preferred medication for Diabetes Mellitus type 2 combined with diet and exercise by the American Diabetes Association (ADA). Metformin has also been used off label in patients with Metabolic Syndrome (insulin resistance, hypertension and obesity), gestational diabetes and PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). Like any other medication it has side effects. Commonly reported side effects of metformin include: lactic acidosis, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting and flatulence. Other side effects include: asthenia, and decreased vitamin b12 serum concentration.
In a recent study published in Cell Reports on December 3, 2019 showed that Metformin may have a role in extend health span and life span. Not well understood but it seems that Metformin trigger some pathways involve in celular stress which are critical on/off switches in cells responsible of increase health span and life span seen on previous studies. Currently a big randomized control study is being done to corroborate this findings.
For those who may have heard, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is looking into metformin and whether it is contaminated with the same cancer-causing agent that forced Zantac. No contamination has been proven up to now.
There you have it, metformin is the most commonly prescribed type 2 diabetes drug, yet we still do not fully understand well how it works and if has the potential to become “the anti-aging pill”. Hope it helps. Let’s celebrate aging!
J. Roberto Duran, III, MD