Robert "Doc" Wascher, MD, FACS

Cancer Surgeon, Author & Musician

Robert Wascher

Robert Wascher
Phoenix, Arizona, USA
December 11
Chairman, Department of Surgery
Cancer Treatment Centers of America
Cancer surgeon, cancer prevention specialist, professor of surgery, author of the bestselling book, "A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race," composer and recording artist.


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MAY 29, 2012 12:37AM

Diabetes Pill (Metformin) Improves Survival in Patients with Deadly Pancreatic Cancer

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New research suggests that the diabetes medication metformin significantly improves survival in patients with deadly pancreatic cancer.




Despite the many recent advances in cancer treatment, pancreatic cancer remains one of the most lethal of all forms of cancer.  An aggressive form of cancer which frequently spreads before patients are even aware that they have the disease, pancreatic cancer remains highly resistant to cure even with aggressive surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.  As I discuss in my bestselling book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, diabetes is a known risk factor for pancreatic cancer (as are obesity and smoking).  In my book, I also discuss preliminary research evidence suggesting that metformin, a common oral medication used to treat diabetes, may actually have anti-cancer properties in diabetic patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer (and, perhaps, in other types of cancer, and in non-diabetic patients, as well).  Now, another newly published clinical research study adds further weight to the hypothesis that metformin may indeed improve survival among diabetic patients diagnosed with this dreaded form of cancer.  This new study appears in the current issue of the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

In this study, the outcomes of 302 patients with pancreatic cancer were studied.  Among these patients, 117 were taking metformin, while 185 patients were not taking metformin for their diabetes.  In this retrospective clinical study, the two-year survival rate among the patients taking metformin was 30 percent, while the two-year survival among the patients receiving other types of treatment for their diabetes was only 15 percent.  In fact, the patients who took metformin experienced a 36 percent overall lower risk of death when compared to the patients who were not taking metformin for their diabetes.  (Of note, metformin appeared to prolong life only in those pancreatic cancer patients with cancers that had not yet spread, or metastasized, outside of the pancreas.)

A major limitation of this study is, of course, its retrospective nature.  However, there are currently over 100 ongoing prospective clinical research trials looking at the use of metformin in pancreatic cancer, as well as in colorectal cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, and other types of cancer (and in both diabetic and non-diabetic cancer patients).  Based upon the available, and encouraging, retrospective data linking metformin with increased survival among pancreatic cancer patients (including the data reported by this study), I have started to selectively place some of my pancreatic cancer patients on metformin, in addition to their other standard pancreatic cancer therapies, given the dismal outcomes typically associated with this form of cancer.  I will, therefore, be very interested to see the results of ongoing prospective, randomized metformin clinical studies in patients with pancreatic cancer, once this data becomes available.

As metformin is a prescription drug used, specifically, to treat diabetes, this medication should only be prescribed by your physician for the treatment of diabetes at this time.

For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionVroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.

Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  (More than 1.3 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious people who visited Weekly Health Update in 2011!)  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.



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