News / Health

Diabetes Drug Improves Survival Chances for Ovarian Cancer Patients

Researchers compared the survival of 61 ovarian cancer patients taking Metformin to that of 178 women with cancer who were not on the drug and found women taking the drug were nearly four times more likely to survive at least five more years.Researchers compared the survival of 61 ovarian cancer patients taking Metformin to that of 178 women with cancer who were not on the drug and found women taking the drug were nearly four times more likely to survive at least five more years.
x
Researchers compared the survival of 61 ovarian cancer patients taking Metformin to that of 178 women with cancer who were not on the drug and found women taking the drug were nearly four times more likely to survive at least five more years.
Researchers compared the survival of 61 ovarian cancer patients taking Metformin to that of 178 women with cancer who were not on the drug and found women taking the drug were nearly four times more likely to survive at least five more years.
Jessica Berman
The prognosis for women diagnosed with ovarian cancer is not very good.  Only about 50 percent can expect to survive the disease for five years.  But researchers say that the odds of making it to that five-year mark are significantly improved if women with ovarian cancer are also taking a common diabetes drug. 

Researchers at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota found that 67 percent of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer who were also taking the diabetes drug metformin lived five years or more after their cancer diagnosis.  That's significantly better than the 50 percent of women who survived at least five years with cancer who were not taking the diabetes drug.

Sanjeey Kumar, a gynecologic oncologist at Mayo Clinic, says researchers are not sure how metformin extends the life expectancy of some ovarian cancer patients, but he says they have a number of theories.  “Such as acting through stem cells, cancer stem cells, or depriving the cancer cells of energy supply or glucose,” he explained.

Stem cells are master cells that can transform into any tissue in the body.  In the ovaries, the stem cells produce normal ovarian cells.  But the influence of certain genes, which researchers are just now starting to identify, can turn the master cells into deadly cancer.

Metformin, an oral medication, reduces harmful levels of so-called bad cholesterol and blood fats known as triglycerides in type 2 diabetics.  The drug also has been shown to prevent heart disease in people with diabetes, and is used occasionally to treat a condition known as polycystic ovarian disease, which causes small cysts on the ovaries and abnormal reproductive hormone levels.

In the Mayo Clinic study, researchers compared the survival of 61 ovarian cancer patients taking metformin to that of 178 women with cancer who were not on the drug.

After accounting for factors such as the patient’s weight, cancer severity and their chemotherapy regimens, they found that women on metformin were nearly four times more likely to survive at least five more years than women not on the drug.

There are very few treatment options available for ovarian cancer, which tends to be resistant to chemotherapy.  So Kumar envisions - after larger clinical trials are conducted - eventually giving women with the disease metformin to improve their prognosis.

“And if the trials validate the findings of our study, then we would say that would say 'yeah,' that would be the time to change our practice and start recommending metformin for people who do not have diabetes,” Kumar stated.

The results of the study on the effectiveness of the diabetes drug metformin in treating ovarian cancer are published in the journal Cancer.

You May Like

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid