Metformin and cancer

Eur J Pharmacol. 2013 Apr 5;705(1-3):96-108. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2013.02.038. Epub 2013 Mar 13.


Type 2 diabetes mellitus is a rising cause of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. A number of studies have also identified diabetic patients as having increased risk for the development of cancer. Metformin is a widely prescribed antidiabetic drug with an established efficacy coupled with a favorable safety profile and low cost. An increasing number of studies have associated metformin treatment with a decrease of cancer risk. Moreover, metformin has also been associated with improved outcomes in cancer patients. These possible pleiotropic effects of metformin may establish metformin as a cancer prevention and treatment option. However, any favorable effects of metformin on cancer are not always corroborated by clinical trials. Larger studies are expected to better investigate the possible antineoplastic effects of metformin.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacology
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Metformin / pharmacology
  • Metformin / therapeutic use*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Metformin