July 8, 2017


A diabetes medication that costs 6 cents a pill could be a key to living longer (Lydia Ramsey , 7/07/17, Business Insider)

Metformin has been around in one form or another for centuries -- Wired reports that it's actually a modified version of a compound found in the flower Galega officinalis, which you may know as French lilac. It was approved by the FDA for diabetes treatment of type 2 diabetes in 1994 (not type 1, which is the result of an autoimmune disorder) though it was available in other countries before then.

Today, metformin one of the most popular prescriptions in the US, according to GoodRx. The drug can cost as little as $4, or 6 cents a pill. 

Since metformin was approved for diabetes, it has started to be used off-label to treat conditions like pre-diabetes, gestational diabetes, and polycystic ovarian disease. Some retrospective studies and preclinical work have indicated that it might also lower a person's risk of cancer, though at least one clinical trial wasn't able to show that it had any protective effect on esophageal cancer.  

Some futurists like Ray Kurzweil are already taking metformin for their health. 

Using the drug as an anti-aging treatment makes sense, since it helps the body be more sensitive to insulin, which in turn lowers the amount of blood sugar in the body and helps things run more smoothly. That may mean the drug could simply help people feel healthier for longer than they might have otherwise -- a phenomenon known as increasing the "healthspan."

A number of studies have linked metformin to an extended, healthier life in non-human settings. Experiments in nematodes and male mice have found that the drug can increase the lifespans (and in some cases healthspans) of the organisms. 

A 2014 retrospective analysis of an earlier study involving roughly 180,000 people also found that those with type 2 diabetes who took metformin lived longer than those in the non-diabetic control group.

Posted by at July 8, 2017 6:07 AM