Metformin: On Ongoing Journey across Diabetes, Cancer Therapy and Prevention

Metabolites. 2013 Nov 7;3(4):1051-75. doi: 10.3390/metabo3041051.


Cancer metabolism is the focus of intense research, which witnesses its key role in human tumors. Diabetic patients treated with metformin exhibit a reduced incidence of cancer and cancer-related mortality. This highlights the possibility that the tackling of metabolic alterations might also hold promising value for treating cancer patients. Here, we review the emerging role of metformin as a paradigmatic example of an old drug used worldwide to treat patients with type II diabetes which to date is gaining strong in vitro and in vivo anticancer activities to be included in clinical trials. Metformin is also becoming the focus of intense basic and clinical research on chemoprevention, thus suggesting that metabolic alteration is an early lesion along cancer transformation. Metabolic reprogramming might be a very efficient prevention strategy with a profound impact on public health worldwide.