Metformin is associated with reduced risk of pancreatic cancer in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2014 Oct;106(1):19-26. doi: 10.1016/j.diabres.2014.04.007. Epub 2014 Apr 18.


Aims: Recent epidemiological studies indicated that use of metformin might decrease the risk of various cancers among patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). However, its influence on pancreatic cancer was controversial. Therefore, we did a meta-analysis of currently available observational studies on the issue.

Methods: We did a PubMed and ISI Web of Science search for observational articles. The pooled relative risk (RR) was estimated using a random-effect model. Heterogeneity was evaluated using I(2) statistic. Subgroup analysis was performed to explore the source of heterogeneity and confirm the overall estimates. Publication bias was also examined.

Results: The analysis included 11 articles (13 studies) comprising 10 cohort studies and 3 case-control studies. Use of metformin was associated with a significant lower risk of pancreatic cancer [RR 0.63, 95% confidence internal (CI) 0.46-0.86, p=0.003]. In a total 11 subgroup analyses, 5 provided the consistent result with pooled effect estimates of overall analysis. No publication bias was detected by Begg's (Z=-0.79, p=0.428) and Egger's test (t=-0.92, p=0.378).

Conclusions: From present observational studies, use of metformin appears to be associated with a reduced risk of pancreatic cancer in patients with T2DM. Further investigation is needed.

Keywords: Diabetes mellitus; Meta-analysis; Metformin; Pancreatic cancer.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Metformin / therapeutic use*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Assessment


  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Metformin