Will metformin use lead to a decreased risk of thyroid cancer? A systematic review and meta-analyses

Eur J Med Res. 2023 Sep 29;28(1):392. doi: 10.1186/s40001-023-01287-0.


Background: It has been reported that metformin use may reduce the risk of thyroid cancer, but existing studies have generated inconsistent results. The purpose of this study was to investigate such association between metformin use and the risk of thyroid cancer.

Methods: Studies of metformin use for the risk of thyroid cancer were searched in Web of Science, PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Library, China National Knowledge Infrastructure, China Biomedical Database, Wanfang Data, and Chinese Scientific Journals Database (VIP) from the establishment date to December 2022. Newcastle-Ottawa scale is adopted for assessing the methodological quality of included studies, and the inter-study heterogeneity was assessed by using the I-squared statistic. Combined odds ratios (ORs) with the corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated through either fixed-effects or random-effects model according to the heterogeneity. Besides, subgroup analyses, sensitivity analyses and test for publication bias were conducted.

Results: Five studies involving 1,713,528 participants were enrolled in the qualitative and quantitative synthesis. The result of the meta-analyses showed that metformin use was associated with a statistically significant lower risk of thyroid cancer (pooled OR = 0.68, 95% CI = 0.50-0.91, P = 0.011). Moreover, in the subgroup analysis, we found that the use of metformin may also aid in the prevention of thyroid cancer in Eastern population (pooled OR = 0.55, 95% CI = 0.35-0.88, P = 0.012) rather than Western population (pooled OR = 0.89, 95% CI = 0.52-1.54, P = 0.685). Sensitivity analysis suggested the results of this meta-analyses were relatively stable. No publication bias was detected.

Conclusion: Metformin use is beneficial for reducing the risk of thyroid cancer. For further investigation, more well-designed studies are still needed to elucidate the association between metformin use and the risk of thyroid cancer.

Keywords: Meta-analyses; Metformin use; Systematic review; Thyroid cancer.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • China
  • Humans
  • Metformin* / therapeutic use
  • Risk
  • Thyroid Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Thyroid Neoplasms* / prevention & control


  • Metformin