Drugs Health Medical Pharma

Metformin may prevent dementia in diabetics, new research suggests 

HQ Team

October 27, 2023: Millions of individuals managing diabetes rely on metformin to regulate their blood sugar levels. Recent research highlights the potential risk of cognitive decline and dementia if metformin is discontinued prematurely. This article delves into the study’s findings and its implications for diabetes patients.

Significance of metformin for diabetics
Metformin, a widely prescribed diabetes medication, is intended for long-term use. The new research underscores its potential role in safeguarding cognitive health as individuals age.

“We found that staying on metformin prevents or delays dementia onset, and this is very encouraging,” said researcher Sarah Ackley, an epidemiologist at Boston University.

A comprehensive study by the authors of the research reveals that patients who discontinued metformin faced a 21% higher risk of dementia compared to those who continued the medication.

This study was conducted at Kaiser Permanente Northern California among a cohort of 41,000  metformin users born prior to 1955 without history of diagnosed kidney disease at metformin initiation. Dementia follow-up began with the implementation of electronic health records in 1996 and continued to 2020. Data were analyzed from November 2021 through September 2023.

Although the study does not pinpoint how metformin prevents dementia, experts propose that the medication’s broader benefits play a crucial role in maintaining cognitive health.

These results are in agreement with earlier studies suggesting that metformin lowers the risk of dementia among diabetes patients.

Complex Factors at Play
Experts acknowledge that the link between metformin discontinuation and dementia is multifaceted. Other factors, such as vitamin B12 levels, may contribute to cognitive issues.

“Metformin’s other effects are likely responsible, and this understanding could help the field identify effective interventions and preventive strategies in future research,” said study author Scott Zimmerman, an epidemiologist at the University of California, San Francisco.

“Many factors need to be balanced for each individual, including individual dementia risk, severity of metformin side effects and what the patient wants,” Zimmerman said. “The benefits of metformin beyond just preventing diabetes complications could be part of the conversation.”

Although the study offers valuable insights, it does not conclusively establish metformin discontinuation as a direct cause of dementia. Further research is warranted to understand the nuanced relationship.

Ultimately, the decision to stop metformin should be made on a case-by-case basis, considering factors like kidney problems. Metformin remains an effective and safe medication for diabetes management.

Approved in 1995 in the US, metformin (dimethylbiguanide) has been the preferred first-line agent for type 2 diabetes since 2006.

The findings were published in the journal JAMA Network Open.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *