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Metformin may improve outcomes in patients with prostate cancer

Charles (Chuck) Maack

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Metformin (Brand names Fortamet, Glucophage, Glucophage XR, Glumetza, Riomet) was originally prescribed to be used alone or with other medications, including insulin, to treat type 2 diabetes (condition in which the body does not use insulin normally and, therefore, cannot control the amount of sugar in the blood).  Metformin is in a class of drugs called biguanides.  Metformin helps to control the amount of glucose (sugar) in your blood.  It decreases the amount of glucose you absorb from your food and the amount of glucose made by your liver.  Metformin also increases your body's response to insulin, a natural substance that controls the amount of glucose in the blood.  Metformin is not used to treat type 1 diabetes (condition in which the body does not produce insulin and therefore cannot control the amount of sugar in the blood).


Metformin is the new “kid on the block” or “med on the block” for prostate cancer and only recently being more prescribed, and since sugar, by way of insulin, can be a contributor to cancer cell growth, it can be reasonably recognized why this product can rein in that growth.  Even though sugar doesn’t exactly “feed” cancer cells, it is a good idea to limit the amount of simple sugar you eat.  This is because when you eat a lot of sugar, your body produces a lot of insulin.   Insulin is a natural substance made by the body. Insulin can tell cells to grow.  In simple terms, insulin can “rev up” cell growth.  For healthy cells, this is a good thing. This is because the cells in your body grow, divide, die, and are replaced as part of the natural process of living.  However, cancer cells can be encouraged to grow more, too, when our bodies produce too much insulin.  So while some insulin in the body is normal, excess insulin may encourage cancer cells to grow more, which is not a good thing.  This is the downside of insulin:  Our bodies need it to function, but it’s unhealthy if we make too much of it.   In summary, sugar does not “feed” cancer cells. However, a lot of sugar can cause our bodies to produce too much insulin, and this is not good for health.


The following explains how Metformin is having a good effect on many: http://tinyurl.com/jwpzzs8


Metformin (aka Glucophage) decreases glucose oxidation and increases the dependency of prostate cancer cells on reductive glutamine metabolism

From http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/early/2013/05/17/0008-5472.CAN-13-0080.short?rss=1  :



“Metformin inhibits cancer cell proliferation and epidemiology studies suggest an association with increased survival in cancer patients taking Metformin, however, the mechanism by which Metformin improves cancer outcomes remains controversial.



To explore how Metformin might directly affect cancer cells, we analyzed how metformin altered the metabolism of prostate cancer cells and tumors.



We found that metformin decreased glucose oxidation and increased dependency on reductive glutamine metabolism in both cancer cell lines and in a mouse model of prostate cancer.



Inhibition of glutamine anaplerosis in the presence of metformin further attenuated proliferation while increasing glutamine metabolism rescued the proliferative defect induced by metformin.



These data suggest that interfering with glutamine may synergize with metformin to improve outcomes in patients with prostate cancer.”



There is much to be considered and requires your physician’s input when it comes to the prescribing of Metformin to slow prostate cancer development.  You can discuss this drug with your Oncologist, but I expect he/she will be hesitant as well…..possibly not if you meet the diagnostic requirements and the dosage is low enough (Medical Oncologist Charles E. Myers prescribes Metformin for prostate cancer patients at 500mg twice daily) (MY NOTE: The Metformin to be prescribed should be in “ER,” Extended Release form). 

But read for yourself and take close note of what you, as the patient, must be aware when taking this medication.   See:  http://www.drugs.com/sfx/metformin-side-effects.html or similar information at http://www.drugs.com/glucophage.html


NOTE: If intending to be prescribed Metformin, it is important to have one’s Vitamin B12 level tested to see if deficient.  Metformin can cause loss of Vitamin B12: http://www.mdguidelines.com/vitamin-b12-deficiency





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Great information, Chuck - many advanced guys will appreciate reading your post, and discussing the possibilities with their respective medoncs.


While we're considering such metabolic interventions, what are your latest thoughts / rationale on using statins to limit cholesterol production (the early precursor of testosterone synthesis in the body, as well as a major cardio-vascular culprit)?


Best wishes - I hope you're continuing to do well.


Alan (Barlee) 

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Dr Mark Moyad is a professor of preventive and alternative medicine at the University of Michigan, and an acknowledged authority on the roles of diet, supplements, and other forms of integrative care in the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer.


He often talks about SAM (Statins, Aspirin and Metformin). 


He spoke to our Group in December 2014 about SAM (put Moyad in the search box at the top right of this page and you'll find the transcript of his talk to us).


Those of us who attended the Prostate Cancer Research Institute Conference in Los Angeles in September heard Dr Moyad talk further about SAM.


There's also more about SAM in Dr Moyad's recent book “The Supplement Handbook: A Trusted Expert's Guide to What Works & What's Worthless for More Than 100 Conditions”.     This book is available as an ebook from Amazon for USD 11.54.  Highly recommended!

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40 months after my prostatectomy in 2007, I had a couple of bone mets.  I then had 12 months ADT and radiation to the spots.


Some time after I stopped ADT, my PSA started rising at around the same rate as before ADT (approx 9 months doubling time), albeit that the level of my PSA was still very low (under 0.1).  I started metformin around 2.4 years ago, at which point the doubling time seems to have slowed to around 18 months. My last PSA reading was 0.25.


I'm currently taking 1000mg extended release Diabex morning and night. The information may be of some interest to members.

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Chuck Maack mentions a prescribed dose given by Dr "Snuffy" Myers for Metformin which is different from the dose of Metformin that johnshaw has been prescribed.  My endocrinologist has prescribed me a dose of Metformin which is different again from those ones.


Like all information on this forum, you shouldn't rely on the information unless you first get advice from your medical professionals. 

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