News Release

Metformin can substantially reduce the risk of Parkinson's disease in diabetes

Reports new study in Parkinsonism and related disorders

Peer-Reviewed Publication


Amsterdam, April 16, 2012 - A major 12-year study based on a Taiwanese population cohort has demonstrated that not only does diabetes increase the risk of developing Parkinson's disease more than 2-fold, the use of sulfonylureas, commonly used as treatment for diabetes, increases the risk further by about 57%. This study also found that by including metformin in the therapy, no increased risk in developing Parkinson's disease was recorded.

Metformin, found in the French lilac, Galega officinalis, was originally used in traditional European medicine, and introduced into France and Britain in the 1950s for the treatment of diabetes. It has a long and relatively safe record, is off patent and relatively inexpensive.

Professor Mark Wahlqvist, lead author of the study commented, "An exciting aspect of the finding is that metformin seems to be working to protect the brain against neurodegeneration which contributes to Parkinsonismin. This means it may also be considered a relevant therapy for the prevention of dementia as well."

While much needs to be done to understand the mechanism behind metformin's workings, a re-setting of the regulation of energy metabolism in cells, including the brain, probably takes place. A similar benefit would be expected from exercise and diet because that too is a way of establishing healthy energy regulation not only for the whole body, but for tissues and cells in the brain.

It appears that metformin has opened new ways to look at major diseases of modern society and how we may reduce the growing burdens of such diseases. Unlike other treatments for diabetes, metformin reduces cardiovascular mortality and several cancers, including those of the large bowel, liver and pancreas.


The article is "Metformin-inclusive sulfonylurea therapy reduces the risk of Parkinson's disease occurring with Type 2 diabetes in a Taiwanese population cohort" by Mark L. Wahlqvist, Meei-Shyuan Lee, Chih-Cheng Hsu, Shao-Yuan Chuang, Jiunn-Tay Lee, Hsin-Ni Tsai (DOI: 10.1016/j.parkreldis.2012.03.010). The article is in press ahead of publication in Parkinsonism and Related Disorders, published by Elsevier.

Notes to editors

Credentialed journalists who would like to access a full text copy of the article, or who wish to interview the authors, may contact Virginia Prada Lopez,; + 31 20 485 3331

About Parkinsonism and Related Disorders

Parkinsonism & Related Disorders, the official journal of the WFN Association of Parkinsonism and Related Disorders, is an established journal publishing the results of basic and clinical research contributing to the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of all neurodegenerative syndromes in which parkinsonism, essential tremor or related movement disorders may be a feature.

The journal forms a truly international channel of communication between the research and clinical communities and publishes reviews, point of view articles, full length articles and short reports in the following topics: molecular biology, neuroanatomy, neurophysiology/electrophysiology, neuropharmacology, neuropsychology, neuroimaging, neurotoxicology, clinical phenomenology, surgical and pharmacological treatment, transplantation studies, relationship with aging, epidemiology/environmental impact factors and rehabilitation.

Parkinsonism & Related Disorders, with an Impact Factor of 3.245, is ranked 53rd out of 185 Clinical Neurology titles according to Thomson Reuters Journal Citation Reports® 2010.

About Elsevier

Elsevier is a world-leading provider of scientific, technical and medical information products and services. The company works in partnership with the global science and health communities to publish more than 2,000 journals, including The Lancet and Cell, and close to 20,000 book titles, including major reference works from Mosby and Saunders. Elsevier's online solutions include SciVerse ScienceDirect, SciVerse Scopus, Reaxys, MD Consult and Mosby's Nursing Suite, which enhance the productivity of science and health professionals, and the SciVal suite and MEDai's Pinpoint Review, which help research and health care institutions deliver better outcomes more cost-effectively.

A global business headquartered in Amsterdam, Elsevier employs 7,000 people worldwide. The company is part of Reed Elsevier Group PLC, a world-leading publisher and information provider, which is jointly owned by Reed Elsevier PLC and Reed Elsevier NV. The ticker symbols are REN (Euronext Amsterdam), REL (London Stock Exchange), RUK and ENL (New York Stock Exchange).

Media contact
Virginia Prada Lopez
+ 31 20 485 3331

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.