It seems like every week there’s a new reason to be happy to be taking metformin. Last week (or was it two weeks ago) a new study found evidence suggesting that taking metformin reduces the risk of developing dementia.
Now, this week, there is a new study suggesting that metformin extends lifespan and healthspan. The team of researchers, headed by Rafael de Cabo of the National Institute of Aging in Baltimore, set out to see whether treatment with metformin mimics some of the benefits of calorie restriction, such as improved physical performance, increased insulin sensitivity, and reduced low-density lipoprotein and cholesterol levels without a the decrease in caloric intake such a diet requires. Or in other words, can we enjoy the benefit of a low calorie diet by taking a pill.
In the study, published in Nature Communications, the researchers took two groups of middle aged male mice. One group of mice was given a 0.1 percent dose and the other was given 1 percent.
The mice that received the 0.1 percent metformin dose were the ones who lived about six percent longer, and were also more resistant to diabetes and heart disease.
The second group receiving the higher dose of metformin was not so lucky, they had a 14% reduction in lifespan compared to mice not given metformin.
The shortened lifespan in the mice given the larger dose of metformin may have been due to kidney failure. The low-dose mice didn’t appear to have any kidney problems.
I know that this is only in mice and that it seems like you can prove anything or cure anything in mice, but still you do have to wonder why doctors aren’t putting many more people on a low dose of metformin. I mean if it fights cancer, lowers dementia risk and may extend lifespan shouldn’t we all be on it?