Metformin and cancer concerns

Metformin and cancer concerns

Many cancer patients have been rushing to use metformin as an anticancer agent, but metformin may contain a cancer-forming nitrosamine, NDMA, and also seems to make BRAF mutation cancer more aggressive when used on its own.

Like all drugs, metformin is not without possible problems.

Firstly, it has been found to contain N-Nitrosodimethylamine, or NDMA, a nitrosamine which was found in drugs such as Zantac and Valsartan and prompted recalls in the USA. Daily intake of levels over 96 nanograms are considered dangerous and carcinogenic. The World Health Organisation has decreed that NDMA is a ‘probable human carcinogen’, at the same level of concern as Glyphosate. It can cause vomiting, dizziness and jaundice. It is linked to cancers of the GI tract; for example, mouth, tongue, oesophageal, stomach, colon and rectal cancer.

But there is a second concern. Back in 2012, treating mice with skin cancer using Avastin was shown to reduce tumour growth by 34%. Encouragingly, when metformin was added to the Avastin, this figure increased to 64%. Professor Richard Marais led the 2012 Cancer Research UK funded research. But. Melanoma with a BRAF mutation, if treated with metformin on its own, GROWS MORE QUICKLY.

The melanoma has been shown to develop more blood vessels and tumour growth is accelerated. BRAF mutations are not uncommon – they are found in around 70% of all melanoma cases. Marais added, “We need to understand the effect Metformin is having on BRAF melanomas and whether prescribing metformin by itself could potentially worsen the disease.”

Chris Woollams, former Oxford University Biochemist said, “We have covered metformin and its benefits before; so it is correct to cover the possible pitfalls. As anyone who has had a Personal Prescription will know, we prefer the herb berberine, which cuts blood sugar in the same way, but attacks cancer cells' energy production and also microbes, and is an anti-inflammatory compound. This, metformin certainly isn’t. 

BRAF is a gene that makes the B-raf protein which, when acting correctly, keeps cells dividing at a healthy rate. A mutation causes increased growth rates. Importantly, BRAF mutations are not merely confined to melanoma but other cancers such as lung cancer (NSCLC), thyroid cancer, serous ovarian cancer and colorectal cancer.  Be clear too: If you are BRAF wild type it means you don't have the mutation. Where someone is interested in metformin use, we have sent the patient to an oncologist, who hopefully should know all this."

Go to: Metformin has benefits with cancer


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