Metformin helpful in some ovarian cancer - report in BMJ


Just to report that on p42 of BMJ of 9 March, there is a brief report as follows:-

"Women with ovarian cancer who take metformin seem to do better than those who do not. Preliminary analysis of a retrospective case control study (72 cases, 143 controls) indicated that the disease specific rate of survival at five years was significantly better in women taking metformin than in controls (73% v 44%, P=0.0002). Analysis excluding disease and patient factors still showed significantly improved survival at 5 years for women taking metformin (67% v 47%, P=0.007) Researchers say metformin is worthy of clinical trials in ovarian cancer (Cancer 2013;119:555-62,doi:10.1002/cncr.27706)."

For your information, Metformin is a drug which has been around for many years as a treatment (by mouth) for type 2 (maturity-onset) diabetes. Sometimes it has mild side effects of loss of appetite or nausea, but is otherwise an ok drug to take. It has been found by looking at ovarian cancer survivors who took it for other reasons - usually diabetes - that it has this effect. So there should be trials soon.

Just thought I would pass this on, as I get the BMJ (British Medical Journal) weekly.

Best wishes.

Eileen x

13 Replies

  • Hi Eileen

    Thanks for that information. I think anything that improves the chances of an improved outcome has be to be considered. Angie was most interested in your various posts regarding ibuprofen once in remission too. We have to get her there first, though I am pretty sure she will go with it when she does. Okay we will probably never find out for sure if the remission period is improved with it, but equally it can't hurt and any chance of it being effective is still a chance.

    Andy x

  • Yes, that's right, if there is a chance of it helping, then take it. Best wishes and love to you and Angie.

    Eileen x

  • Dwae Eileen,

    Thanks so much for passing this on. Any non-invasive treatment that might improve quality of life is worth investigating. Keep posting with news fron the BMJ. Not only is it interesting, it keeps our oncologists on their toes. Xx Annie

  • I know. Will let everybody know if I see any stuff in BMJ.

    All the best.

    Eileen xx

  • Thank you very much. Your posts are always very interesting for me as we were diagnosed with PPC almost at the same time, our experience with 1st recurrence was the same and then you took ibuprofin, needing no chemo since whereas I am on my 3rd recurrence. I like that you always direct us to med. research also.

    Do you think you will add metformin? I am weeklu taxol and sitting on the fence with regard to metformin, both my GP and Onc. have no problem with me taking it. My blood suger is however exactly where it should be. But metformin seems to work on other factors also.

    Best wishes and thanks xx

  • I did a reply just now, but it seems to have disappeared. No, I will stick to ibuprofen alone, as it seems to be working for me. But probably you should give metformin a try when your taxol treatment over.

    I must explain that my diagnosis of PPC is not 100% certain. I was found at hysterectomy for presumed PPC to coincidentally have endometrial cancer, very small, in a uterine polyp. My oncologist thinks this is a separate primary cancer from my (presumed) PPC, ie that I developed 2 cancers (primary) at the same time, which she says is not that uncommon, and is not well explained (she was at a conference about it recently), but the pathology of my 2 cancers is fairly similar, and so it is possible that my "PPC" is in fact massive secondaries (metastases) from a tiny primary cancer in uterus.

    I just thought I should explain this, as it is very complicated. Maybe you should go with metformin, as it has definitely been shown to be of some help in ovarian cancer. But it appears that both metformin and aspirin/ibuprofen etc can prevent various cancers, and prevent spread, probably in totally different ways, as they are not related. So that is good news. Maybe we are spoilt for choice. Sadly neither helps everyone, but they do appear to help some.

    All the best.

    Eileen xx

  • Thank you Eileen.

    I will definitly try the ibuprofen after taxol and may also add the metformin. At the start of this recurrence I had pain that was fairly mild but kept me awake at night and took 400mg ibuprofen each night. As I was waiting for a place on a PARP clinical trial (I am BRCA2+) I did not start chemo straight away this time. I was amazed that the disease seemed to hold off on getting worse compared to the other recurrences and now wonder if it was the ibuproen. PARP did not work for me.

    Best wishes,


  • Yes, that sounds like a good pointer that ibuprofen may work for you. Remember to take omeprazole to protect your stomach too.

    All the best.

    Eileen x

  • Just to let everyone know, there is a metformin study in plan at the moment, which might impact on oncologists views. I will post details as soon as they are confirmed.

    L x

  • Thanks, Louise.

    E x

  • Thanks for posting this drdu. It makes me wonder again why oncs treating OC are not more pro-active. Cx

  • I know, me too. They take ages to do anything.

    E xx

  • Further to this, I found today an article in New Scientist of 16 March, still on the shelves if you want a look, p28, Antioxidant Antidote, which among other stuff makes reference to metformin, ie taking it lowers your chance of getting cancers - they mention lung, pancreas and colon - by 20 - 40%. So worth a try.

    Eileen xx

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