Metformin may lower risk for oral cancer

Metformin may protect against oral cancer, according to a new study in Cancer Prevention Research.

Metformin is the most widely used treatment for patients with type 2 diabetes, and scientists have noticed a trend toward cancer reduction in a number of organ sites, noted the study authors (CPR, March 31, 2012).

J. Silvio Gutkind, PhD, chief of the Oral and Pharyngeal Cancer Branch of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research at the National Institutes of Health, and colleagues induced premalignant lesions in laboratory mice and studied the effect of metformin on progression of these lesions to oral cancers.

They saw strong activity against mTORC1 (mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1), which contributes to oral cancers, indicating a protective effect.

The study found that administration of metformin reduced the size and number of carcinogen-induced oral tumoral lesions in mice and significantly reduced the development of squamous cell carcinomas by about 70% to 90%. The researchers found that metformin inhibited mTORC1 function in the basal layer of oral premalignancies and prevented their spontaneous development into head and neck squamous cell carcinomas.

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