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Diabetes Drug Tied to Extending Life

Update Date: Jul 31, 2013 10:17 AM EDT

Several research studies have repeatedly found that if people want to extend their lifespan and lower their risks for diseases, a lot of work has to be put into the body. Not only do people need to exercise and eat healthy, they must also have a good mental grasp on reality. When a good balance is achieved, people can effectively add a few years to their lives. For people who might not have the discipline or desire to lead a healthy life, there might be another way to longevity. According to a new study, a diabetes drug was able to extend the lifespan for mice.

"It's clear that we are edging toward developing a pharmaceutical intervention that is going to be able to delay or postpone aging," de Cabo said according to USA Today. "For how much and how long I have no idea."

In this study, the researchers headed by Rafael de Cabo from the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore, MD, looked at the drug, metformin. Metformin is currently one of the most popular drug treatments for type-2 diabetes. It is often prescribed for patients who have metabolic syndrome, which is diabetes combined with high blood pressure and obesity. For the study, the researchers administered two kinds of doses of this drug to middle-aged male mice. The first kind was considered to be low-dose while the other was high-dose.

The researchers found that for the mice that received the lower-dose form of metformin, they experienced a five percent increase in lifespan. When translated to human years, this drug could potentially add three to four years. They also suffered from age-related diseases at a later time. For the higher dosage group, the researchers reported that the drug reduced longevity and was toxic. Studies looking into metformin in the past found that it was capable of extending the lifespan of worms and other simple organisms. This study suggests that there might be more to this diabetes drug.

"There are very promising results that need to be translated to humans via clinical studies," de Cabo said according to BBC News. "Right now the best that we can say is probably what your grandmother told you. Eat a good diet and exercise are the only two things that we know for sure that they work very well in humans."

The study was published in Nature Communications.

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