Research led by Warwick Medical School at the University of Warwick has found that Metformin, a drug treatment used to treat diabetes and also in women with Polycystic vary syndrome (PCOS), may potentially provide protection against endometrial cancer.
Endometrial cancer is the most common malignancy of the female genital tract and the fourth most common cancer in women in the UK and the US. Up to a third of PCOS women also have endometrial hyperplasia which, in turn predisposes these women to endometrial cancer. PCOS affects 5%-10% of women of reproductive age, where Metformin ameliorates insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia in these women, but also long-term use of Metformin improves ovulation and menstrual cycle regularity.
Recent research has found that Metformin has anti-cancer properties e.g. in breast cancer. Given that insulin resistant states, e.g. obesity, diabetes and PCOS are more at risk of developing endometrial cancer, the Warwick researchers studied the effects of metformin treatment on endometrial cancer cells. The researchers used serum from control and PCOS (before and after metformin treatment) subjects and carried out basic scientific experiments on endometrial cancer cells. The experiments revealed a decrease in endometrial cancer cell invasiveness in sera from metformin treated PCOS women.
The researchers found that serum samples from PCOS women who had completed the 6 month course of Metformin the rate of spread of endometrial cancer cells was around 25% lower than in the serum samples from PCOS women who had not started that treatment.
The principal investigators, Dr Harpal Randeva and Dr Bee K Tan, at Warwick Medical School said: "We are very excited about our findings, which reveal the significant impact of Metformin therapy use on human endometrial cancer cells. However, it is prudent that further research to explore if Metformin would actually be beneficial clinically as adjuvant therapy in endometrial cancer; this would need to be addressed through a randomized controlled trial."
Notes for Editors
The research paper has been published in the The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism doi:10.1210/jc.2010-1803 and is entitled Metformin Treatment Exerts Antiinvasive and Antimetastatic Effects in Human Endometrial Carcinoma Cells by Bee K. Tan, Raghu Adya, Jing Chen, Hendrik Lehnert, Louis J. Sant Cassia, and Harpal S. Randeva
The researchers were from: The University of Warwick's Warwick Medical School (B.K.T., R.A., J.C., H.L., L.J.S.C., H.S.R.); the Department of Reproductive Medicine and Surgery Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals National Health Service Foundation Trust, Cambridge (B.K.T.); University of Lubeck Medical School, (H.L.); and the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology (University Hospital, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire National Health Service Trust, Coventry, (L.J.S.C.). Dr. Dennis Heutling, from the Division of Endocrinology Metabolism, Magdeburg University Hospital, Magdeburg, provided the clinical samples for this study.
For further information please contact:
Dr Harpal S Randeva
Senior Lecturer in Medicine
Warwick Medical School
University of Warwick
Tel: +44 (0)2476 572552
Peter Dunn, Head of Communications
University of Warwick,
Tel: +44 (0)24 76 523708 Mobile/Cell: +44 (0)7767 655860
PR 45 PJD 5th April 2011
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism