A population-based study showed no protective association between metformin use and cancer mortality among patients with lung cancer, according to a study published online ahead of print in the journal Lung Cancer.1

Preclinical evidence suggests metformin, a widely prescribed diabetes therapy, may inhibit progression of disease in patients with lung cancer. The researchers conducted a population-based study to investigate whether metformin use was associated with a reduced risk of lung cancer-specific mortality.

This study included newly diagnosed lung cancer in patients with type 2 diabetes. Lung cancer diagnoses were identified from the English National Data Repository, 1998-2009; lung cancer deaths occurring up to 2012 were identified using Office of National Statistics mortality data.

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Diabetes diagnoses were based on UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink prescriptions and diagnosis records. The association between metformin use, before and after diagnosis, and risk of lung cancer-specific mortality was calculated using Cox regression models.

In an analysis of 533 patients, a nonsignificant reduction in lung cancer-specific mortality was seen with metformin use after diagnosis (adjusted HR, 0.86; 95% CI, 0.68–1.09). In an analysis of 1350 patients, no association was seen in cancer-specific mortality with metformin use before diagnosis (adjusted HR, 0.97; 95% CI, 0.86, 1.11). No difference in association related to duration of use was seen.

In addition, Study results provided little evidence of an association between other diabetes medications, such as sulfonylureas, insulin, thiazolidinediones, either before or after diagnosis, and lung cancer-specific mortality.


1. McMenamin UC, Cardwell CR, Hughes CM, Murray LM. Metformin use and survival from lung cancer: a population-based cohort study [published online ahead of print January 29, 2015]. Lung Cancer. doi:10.1016/j.lungcan.2016.01.012.