Researchers in the United States point to a diabetes drug treatment as a possible preventative against lung cancer.
In a newly-published article, they highlight how the drug, metformin, might offer smokers a lifeline, after recent trials that used mice as test subjects.
The trials put the mice in contact with NNK/Nicotine-derived Nitrosamine Ketone - a component of tobacco smoke that causes lung cancer to develop.
These trials showcased the ability of metformin to stop tumours forming.
Metformin Preventing Lung Cancer
Given metformin’s widespread use, the researchers believe additional studies into its potential as a method of preventing lung cancer are now well worth considering.
Metformin is considered to outrank all other diabetes drug treatment in terms of prescriptions levels issued: more than 40m metformin prescriptions were given out in the US alone in 2008. The drug’s brand names include Obimet, Diabex, Dianben, Riomet and Diaformin, and it is available in both slow and immediate release forms.
Metformin Lung Cancer Trials
The mice involved in the metformin lung cancer trials were prescribed pill or vaccine variants of the drug.
Overall, the oral medication mice experienced a tumour reduction up to 50 per cent, while those who had it as a vaccine – 72 per cent. These high figures prompted the team to consider carrying out future human-based trial on smoking subjects.
“Although smoking cessation is the most important step for current smokers, over half of lung cancer cases are diagnosed in former smokers, raising the importance of identifying those at highest risk and identifying effective preventive treatments”, team leader Doctor Philip Dennis stated.
According to WHO – the World Health Organisation – more people die from smoking-related conditions every 12 months than from any other preventable cause.
Over 5m smoking-related deaths occur while, as per data published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one-in-five adults in the US are smokers.