Metformin May Offer Defense Against Dementia in Type 2s

| Dec 14, 2013

Not only can the diabetes drug metformin help control blood sugar levels, it may also reduce the risk of dementia, a health risk that's elevated for those with diabetes.

A recent study found that those taking metformin to help control blood glucose were 20 percent less likely to develop dementia over the course of the five-year study than those who were taking sulfonylureas to control their diabetes symptoms instead.

"Metformin could have a possible neuroprotective effect in the brain," said Dr. Rachel Whitmer, an epidemiologist in the division of research at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, Calif., and author of the study.

According to researchers, those with type 2 diabetes have twice the risk of developing dementia compared to persons without the disease. The Kaiser study is the first of its kind to look into the relationship between diabetes drugs and dementia.

As part of the study, researchers looked at the data of nearly 15,000 patients 55 and older with type 2 diabetes, each of whom was beginning one of four single-drug therapies to treat their disease.

The therapies under review included metformin, which encourages the liver to produce less glucose, sulfonylureas, which stimulate the production of insulin to control blood sugar, thiazolidinediones , which make muscle and fat tissue more receptive to insulin, and synthetic insulin.

Over the course of the five-year study, 10 percent of the patients in all drug categories were diagnosed with dementia.

Of those taking metformin, patients were 20 percent less likely of developing dementia than those taking sulfonylureas, though there was no difference in the incidents of dementia between those taking sulfonylureas and those prescribed either thiazolidinediones or insulin.

Whitmer said the results could mean that metformin, which reduces inflammation in the body, might also play a role in encouraging the production of new brain cells.

The theory sparked interest from experts in the fields of both diabetes and dementia.

"The idea that how we treat diabetes could affect all-cause dementia is very exciting," said Dr. Richard Lipton, director of the division of cognitive aging and dementia at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, in an interview with the syndicated news service HealthDay.

"Insulin promotes the survival of certain nerve cells. A drug like metformin, an insulin sensitizer in the body, may also be an insulin sensitizer in the brain,"Lipton said. "We know that people with Alzheimer's lose brain volume, which may be a poor replacement of nerve cells. The notion that metformin might promote neurogenesis and brain cell replacement is a very attractive hypothesis."

Click Here To View Or Post Comments

Categories: Dementia, Metformin, Single-Drug Therapies, Type 2

Take the Diabetes Health Pump Survey
See What's Inside
Read this FREE issue now
For healthcare professionals only
  • 12th Annual Product Reference Guide
  • Insulin Syringe Chart
  • Insulin Pen Needles Chart
  • Fast-Acting Glucose
  • Sharps Disposal
  • Blood Glucose Meters Chart
  • Insulin Pumps Chart
See the entire table of contents here!

You can view the current or previous issues of Diabetes Health online, in their entirety, anytime you want.
Click Here To View

See if you qualify for our free healthcare professional magazines. Click here to start your application for Pre-Diabetes Health, Diabetes Health Pharmacist and Diabetes Health Professional.

Learn More About the Professional Subscription

Free Diabetes Health e-Newsletter

Top Rated
Print | Email | Share | Comments (0)

You May Also Be Interested In...


Add your comments about this article below. You can add comments as a registered user or anonymously. If you choose to post anonymously your comments will be sent to our moderator for approval before they appear on this page. If you choose to post as a registered user your comments will appear instantly.

When voicing your views via the comment feature, please respect the Diabetes Health community by refraining from comments that could be considered offensive to other people. Diabetes Health reserves the right to remove comments when necessary to maintain the cordial voice of the diabetes community.

For your privacy and protection, we ask that you do not include personal details such as address or telephone number in any comments posted.

Don't have your Diabetes Health Username? Register now and add your comments to all our content.

Have Your Say...

Username: Password:
©1991-2015 Diabetes Health | Home | Privacy | Press | Advertising | Help | Contact Us | Donate | Sitemap

Diabetes Health Medical Disclaimer

The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information, contained on or available through this website is for general information purposes only. Opinions expressed here are the opinions of writers, contributors, and commentators, and are not necessarily those of Diabetes Health. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website.