Metformin and Cancer

The news about Metformin as a possible ally in the fight against cancer has finally taken wings.   (This was first reported in the literature several years ago.)

 As we’ve spoken about in the past – these discoveries about the ‘side benefits’ of this powerful oral anti-glycemic are finally getting some well-deserved press.  As a drug that’s often been shunted aside despite it’s low cost, and impressive safety profile for the more pricey and flashy (but less clinically-proven) alternatives (Yes, Byetta, I am talking about you) this could serve as a boon to consumers..

The other thing we should take from this research is that it remains critical to aggressively control diabetes – for more than just the usual cardiovascular risks but to reduce the risk of our patients developing cancer.  While insulin is a godsend to patients with uncontrolled glucose – metformin should remain on the menu even after the initiation of insulin therapies.  Too often, metformin falls off the roster.  We also need to impress upon our patients to potent nature of this innoculous sounding medication.  Frequently patients inform me that they have abandoned metformin for various reasons in favor of the more pricey, and heavily advertised medications.  Unfortunately, they are really just short-changing themselves: both their wallets and their health.

Coming soon – more about the ‘magic bullet’ of Aspirin – as both a cancer-fighter and an essential element for cardiovascular health.

Unleash Metformin: Reconsideration of the Contraindication in Patients with Renal Impairment – Wenya R. Lu, PharmD.

Dr. Fabian Emura, of the EmuraCenter

Dr. Fabian Emura, of the EmuraCenter

is a gastroenterologist and general surgeon here in Bogota, who specializes in the detection and treatment of digestive cancers.  Along with his clinic, he has also created two separate divisions; a foundation for promote the prevention and detection of digestive cancers, and a medical education division – which supports training physicians world-wide in the endoscopy techniques he currently uses.

Currently, Dr. Emura is the only physician outside of China, Korea and Japan (where gastric cancer is endemic, and accounts for 20% of all cancers) who is treating early stage (stage I) cancers with endoscopic surgery versus a more radical gastrectomy.  This procedure has already been well validated in Asia, where it has been used for over a decade.

Dr. Emura has also created and implemented a classification system for the grading and staging of digestive lesions.

By using chromography endoscopy (or chromoendoscopy) and a wax dye,  doctors such as Dr. Emura are better able to visualize lesions that might otherwise be missed.

His research has also focused on differentiating colon lesions endoscopically, (to prevent unnecessary surgery for benign lesions).

He is currently working on screening guidelines (particularly for populations with higher incidence of gastric cancers such as in Colombia) because one of the main problems that still exists – is that the majority of patients with stomach cancer – are diagnosed late – when treatment options are limited and noncurative.