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Patients With Type 2 Diabetics Can Live Longer Than Healthy People

Update Date: Aug 08, 2014 12:07 PM EDT

Patients administered with a drug widely prescribed for type 2 diabetes can live longer than people without the condition, a new study has found. 

The findings of the study, involving over 180,000 people, indicated that drug known as metformin, used to control glucose levels in the body and already known to exhibit anticancer properties could offer prognostic and prophylactic benefits to people without diabetes. 

The study sought to compare the survival of diabetes patients administered metformin with patients prescribed with another common diabetes drug called sulphonylurea. 

Researchers also compared the life expectancy of these cohorts against non-diabetics who were matched based on criteria like age, gender, same general practice, smoking habits and clinical status. 

"What we found was illuminating," said lead author Professor Craig Currie from Cardiff University's School of Medicine, in the press release. 

"Patients treated with metformin had a small but statistically significant improvement in survival compared with the cohort of non-diabetics, whereas those treated with sulphonylureas had a consistently reduced survival compared with non-diabetic patients. This was true even without any clever statistical manipulation.

"Surprisingly, the findings indicate that this cheap and widely prescribed diabetic drug may have beneficial effects not only on patients with diabetes but also for people without, and interestingly, people with type 1 diabetes. Metformin has been shown to have anti-cancer and anti-cardiovascular disease benefits. It can also reduce pre-diabetics' chances of developing the disease by a third."

Currie further warned that people with type 2 diabetes don't get Scott free either. 

"This does not mean that people with type 2 diabetes get off Scott free. Their disease will progress and they will be typically switched to more aggressive treatments. People lose on average around eight years from their life expectancy after developing diabetes. The best way to avoid the condition altogether is by keeping moderately lean and taking some regular light exercise," Currie said. 

The study is published in the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism.

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