Cool. I'm on metformin (the drug from the article) and Actos for my American Diabetes. Maybe metformin's anti-cancer properties will counter Actos' known pro-cancer properties! :-)
 By American Diabetes I mean diabetes due to being overweight. A few years ago, I changed my eating habits, got down to merely chubby, and all traces of diabetes went away. Eventually, changes in work threw my schedule into disarray, I stopped making time to go home and cook and reverted to too much fast food, much of the weight came back, and so did the diabetes.
A mix, although shakes are rare. It's the tempting add-ons (e.g., cookies at Subway) and the late night "I didn't stock any good snacks at home to avoid temptation, and so I end up going to the convenience store" runs that are the killers.
Ok, now to protect my health I should be taking this drug (Metformin?), taking aspirin, drinking a glass of wine, eating blueberries... what have I missed? Maybe a pill that combines all that? There's an actionable startup idea!
I might be wrong, but my understanding is that metformin is remarkably safe. I know you shouldn't take it if you have kidney or liver disease, and you mentioned the risk for women who are or might become pregnant, but except in those cases, I think gastrointestinal upset is about the only side-effect.
The gastrointestinal upset is very prevalent, especially when people start taking it. It is also a good idea to avoid alcohol completely while on metformin. Metformin isn't a miracle cure - it helps reduce sugar absorption and generation by a (little) bit. Good old fashioned diet and exercise are far better, with metformin just taking the edge off. The best way of affecting long term public health is to address diet and exercise rather than giving everyone 5c pills.
FWIW, the dreams of the 'end-all pill' fall short for a wide variety of reasons - one of the major ones being volume of ingredients necessary.
For many recommended doses of vitamins / minerals, you simply need more than the total weight of those ingredients than can fit into a pill. The magnitude of this depends upon which supplementation schools of thought you believe in, but there is a limit to how much you can cram into a pill you can swallow.
Are they saying that controlling blood sugar reduces cancer, or that metformin controls blood sugar -and- reduces cancer through some other mechanism?
There is enormous evidence of health problems caused by high blood sugar. If this applies to cancer too, the actionable plan is to start measuring one's own blood sugar (either daily or with an implant which can do it continuously), and learn to control it. I'm ready to try this myself.
Nothing beats direct measurement / "what gets measures gets fixed".
I've been taking this on and off before meals as an anti-aging drug. Glad it's getting some mainstream coverage. It's quite possible just about everyone should be taking it, certainly everyone on a typical American high-carb diet.
I didn't really mean that; I meant something more like "every person that is unusually obsessive about their health and willing to regularly take diagnostic testing that is considered conventionally bad Bayesian medicine at a population level should try Metformin".
So really I meant that everyone should have health care in the top .1% of healthcare available on the planet, but that's a utopia, not reality.
There's a key difference between drugs and foods. For example, Vitamin C is required for synthesis, metabolism, and enzyme operation . Caffeine simply enhances alertness. Your body will cease to function correctly without Vitamin C; not so without Caffeine (unless you are fostering a dependance)
The bitter orange is delicious with stronger orange flavor than a normal orange, particularly in the peel. Most commercially used "natural orange flavor" is derived from bitter orange peels. The bitter orange contains a powerful set of ephedra-like substances, which are quite powerfully mind altering. A single bitter orange is actually uncomfortably stimulating for most people, in the sense that people have enough of a sense for this kind of thing that they stop eating before they consume an entire orange.
But even though sour orange extract is regulated as a supplement, it works as a powerful drug, and an unusually dangerous one at that. It still grows on trees and is very delicious and perhaps available blended in a $15 cocktail near you. Most bartenders don't realize they are adding a stimulant to a drink when they add Seville orange.
A somewhat similar corollary - 'Lovaza', sold by GSK. It contains Omega-3-acid ethyl esters.
Also widely known as fish oil, and is prescribed for the same reasons fish oil is recommended in supplementation. Only difference is fish oil is marginally less concentrated, much cheaper, doesn't have the 'pharma' tag and isn't prescribed.
In the industry it's known as one of the biggest cash cows for GSK - it's earned them many billions.
You don't. You patent "Nocan", a drug with an extremely similar (most would say "identical") chemical structure. Metformin is a diabetes medication, while Nocan will be a cancer drug, so they're totally different. The diseases aren't even handled by the same medical specialists. ;)
I was going to say that your doctor won't be allowed to prescribe metformin, but I checked and the FDA is fine with your doc independently prescribing drugs for off-label use. The manufacturer of metformin isn't allowed to market it as an anti-cancer drug, but what doctor won't be aware of this?
So who would break patent law in the case that a doctor prescribes the $0.05 diabetes pills to a cancer patient?
The doctor? He doesn't really make a profit of this and at least over here in Austria, a doctor may prescribe any substance he wants as long as he can argue that it is for the well-being of his patient.
The producer of the diabetes drugs? They don't sell it as a cancer drug.
The apothecary? He's just following the doctor's orders.
Nobody would be sued because nobody is breaking any patent laws.
That's why you rarely (never?) see a drug company take an old, off-patent drug and try and get a patent for it (in it's original form) on a new disease. Since there is no way to recoup any investment costs, they simply don't make the investment.
What does happen is that drug companies will take an old, off-patent drug and modify it somehow so that it can be patented. They can do that a number of different ways: create a unique formulation of the drug, create a drug-device combination product or try and create a slightly modified (and hopefully improved) version of the original drug.
Under the current system, unless you have a patent (or marketing exclusivity from the FDA) you have no opportunity to recoup any investment you made in the drug.