American Association for Cancer Research

AACR Press Releases

Metformin May Lower Risk for Oral Cancer Development


March 31, 2012

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  • Agent acts against mTOR to prevent lesion progression.
  • Oral cancer incidence reduced by 70 to 90 percent. 
  • Results are part of increasing evidence of metformin’s protective effect.
PHILADELPHIA — New findings published in Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, suggest that metformin may protect against oral cancer.

J. Silvio Gutkind, Ph.D., chief of the Oral and Pharyngeal Cancer Branch of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research at the National Institutes of Health, and colleagues induced premalignant lesions in laboratory mice and studied the effect of metformin on progression of these lesions to oral cancers.

“We saw strong activity against mTORC1 (mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1), which we know contributes to oral cancers, so this is strong preclinical information that there is a protective effect,” said Gutkind.

Metformin is the most widely used treatment for patients with type 2 diabetes, and scientists have started to notice a trend toward cancer reduction in a number of organ sites.

Gutkind and colleagues found that administration of metformin reduced the size and number of carcinogen-induced oral tumoral lesions in mice and significantly reduced the development of squamous cell carcinomas by about 70 to 90 percent.

They found that metformin inhibited mTORC1 function in the basal layer of oral premalignancies and prevented their spontaneous development into head and neck squamous cell carcinomas.
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About the AACR

Founded in 1907, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is the world’s first and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research and its mission to prevent and cure cancer. AACR’s membership includes 34,000 laboratory, translational and clinical researchers; population scientists; other health care professionals; and cancer advocates residing in more than 90 countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise of the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, biology, diagnosis and treatment of cancer by annually convening more than 20 conferences and educational workshops, the largest of which is the AACR Annual Meeting with more than 18,000 attendees. In addition, the AACR publishes seven peer-reviewed scientific journals and a magazine for cancer survivors, patients and their caregivers. The AACR funds meritorious research directly as well as in cooperation with numerous cancer organizations. As the Scientific Partner of Stand Up To Cancer, the AACR provides expert peer review, grants administration and scientific oversight of individual and team science grants in cancer research that have the potential for patient benefit. The AACR actively communicates with legislators and policymakers about the value of cancer research and related biomedical science in saving lives from cancer.  

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Media Contact:
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