101 Video: What is Metformin?

Video Transcript

Metformin is one of the most commonly prescribed medications in the world to lower glucose levels, accounting for more than 83 million prescriptions in the U.S. alone.

In recent years, a number of prominent scientists and clinicians have considered Metformin as more than just a glucose-control drug. Rather, one that could provide significant longevity benefits, address specific hallmarks of aging, and even extend healthspan for both diabetics and non-diabetics. In fact, Metformin was recently approved by the FDA to be reviewed as part of the first-ever anti-aging clinical trial, the Targeting Aging with Metformin Trial.

So, how does Metformin work, and why are so many scientists and clinicians excited about its potential to help slow down aging and improve healthspan?

In simple terms, Metformin lowers blood sugar levels – and it does so in two ways.

Metformin both reduces how much glucose is released from the liver into the bloodstream, and it helps the cells of your body to absorb more glucose from the bloodstream.

The benefits of improved blood sugar levels range from weight loss to lowered heart attack and stroke risk to reduced inflammation and a reduction in stress hormones.

On top of this, Metformin is routinely prescribed for polycystic ovary syndrome due to its ability to improve insulin sensitivity.

But, Metformin’s potential benefits extend far beyond its sugar control qualities. Science suggests Metformin is potentially associated with lower risks of:

  1. All-cause mortality
  2. Pre-diabetes and diabetes
  3. Dementia
  4. Certain types of cancer

Let’s take a look at some of the scientific studies supporting potential benefits of Metformin to lower the aforementioned risks and increase healthspan.

In several clinical studies, Metformin was associated with lower incidence of multiple age-related diseases as well as all-cause mortality in both diabetics and non-diabetics.

A landmark study from the U.K. followed 78,000 diabetics over several years to determine which treatment helped them live as close as possible to non-diabetics. To their surprise, diabetics who took Metformin actually outlived non-diabetics.

Metformin has also been associated with lower risk of diabetes. Perhaps the largest study supporting this is the Diabetes Prevention Program (or DPP for short), sponsored by the National Institute of Health from 1996-2001. The study followed 3,000 people for 5 years. The study concluded that “Participants who took Metformin lowered their chances of developing type 2 diabetes by 31 percent compared with participants who took a placebo.”

Metformin has been associated with reduced risk of dementia, too.

A study of nearly 68,000 patients aged 65 or older were followed from 2004 to 2009 to determine diabetes associated with increased risk of dementia. The study concluded that risk is reduced when taking a sulfonylureas drug or Metformin. Similarly, a smaller 2014 study of approximately 365 individuals, aged 55 or older, concluded Metformin use showed a significant inverse association with cognitive impairment.

There are multiple other published studies showing an association between the use of Metformin and reduced risk of certain types of cancer, as well as cardiovascular events.

The Mayo Clinic completed an ovarian cancer study and concluded that diabetic women who took Metformin had better survival than non-diabetic women who did not take Metformin. This is extremely impactful, as ovarian cancer is the 5th most common cancer in women, as well as the deadliest, with a mortality rate of 65%.

Metformin can have weight loss benefits, too. The aforementioned Diabetes Prevention Program (or DPP) published a ten year follow-up study that concluded Metformin patients lost an average of 2.5kg (or 5.5 pounds) and maintained most of that weight loss throughout the 10 year follow-up.

In addition to its sugar control qualities, it also demonstrates protective effects against several age-related diseases and has even extended healthspan.

If you’d like to learn more about Metformin, you can access a comprehensive list of studies, sign up for an educational newsletter, and even complete an online visit with a medical professional by visiting