Metformin can prevent pancreatic cancer from spreading, studies show. While it is not a proven cure, research shows that the anti-diabetic drug can stop cancer from relapsing or spreading to other organs in the body. This finding might just have the potential to increase survival rates for pancreatic cancer.
Metformin: How it Works against Pancreatic Cancer Stem Cells?
In this Article:
- What is Pancreatic Cancer?
- A Leading Cause of Cancer Death
- How Metformin May Work Against Cancer
- What do these findings mean?
What is Pancreatic Cancer?
Cancer happens when there is an abnormal growth of cells. In the case of pancreatic cancer, it occurs in the pancreas, an organ in the digestive system. It is located in the abdomen, behind the stomach. This organ has two essential functions: it helps with digestion and aids in regulating blood sugar.
Two Main Groups!
This type of cancer has two main groups, namely:
Pancreatic Exocrine Tumors: The tumors start in the exocrine cells, which produce enzymes for digestion. This is more common among patients with cancer in the pancreas.
Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors (PNETs): The tumor starts in the endocrine cells, which produce hormones that control blood sugar levels.
Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer!
- Jaundice or the yellowing of the skin and eyes
- Unexpected weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain in the abdomen or back
A Leading Cause of Cancer Death!
Although it is relatively rare in the U.S., pancreatic cancer is among the deadliest in the world. It remains one of the difficult types of cancer to treat and has a comparatively low survival rate. Poor prognosis is often a major factor.
Detecting this type of cancer at an early stage is difficult. The symptoms, often very similar to other diseases, only occur when the cancer is already at an advanced stage. In many cases, diagnoses happen too late when surgery is not a viable treatment option anymore and chemotherapy is not as effective.
Researchers are still improving screening tests for this type of cancer for early detection to become possible.
How Metformin May Work Against Cancer!
It is important to note that Metformin does not cure cancer, but it may "suffocate" or "smother" pancreatic cancer stem cells. This mechanism may stop cancer from spreading, offering a possible solution against its recurrence in the area or other parts of the body.
Metformin works against this type of cancer by cutting off the oxygen in the stem cells. Many types of cancer generate power through glycolysis, which is the process of converting sugar into energy. Otherwise can be said about pancreatic cancer stem cells. They rely on oxidative phosphorylation. Their mitochondria convert oxygen into energy and Metformin basically stops the conversion.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Metformin may be used as one of the treatment options for pancreatic cancer, once researchers gather more evidence. It may reduce the risk of recurrence after going through treatment like surgery.
Considering pancreatic cancer is among the deadliest types of cancer, findings of an existing product like this are significant.
Watch this TED video to learn about a developing approach to pancreatic cancer:
Metformin, as of writing, is not a proven cure for pancreatic cancer. The findings of this research might be stepping stones for better treatment options, not just for pancreatic cancer but other types as well.
What are other cancer treatment plans do you know? Let us know in the comments section.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. None of the nutritional products mentioned is intended to Diagnose, Treat, Cure, or Prevent Any Disease.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on October 27, 2015, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.
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