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Metformin for Longevity and Anti-Aging


Key Takeaways

1.) Metformin is an FDA-approved anti-diabetic medication that has shown promising potential in improving many biological processes responsible for accelerating aging and increasing mortality.

2.) In clinical trials, Metformin was shown to effectively treat various age-related diseases such as Parkinson’s, coronary heart disease, and osteoporosis, thus helping diabetic patients improve their health and increase their chances of living longer.

3.) Read on to learn how Metformin may be used as an anti-aging treatment to help non-diabetics improve various aspects of their health and increase their longevity.

How Metformin Works in the Body

As an anti-diabetic medication for people with Type 2 diabetes, the primary purpose of Metformin is to reduce the amount of sugar the body produces and absorbs in the blood. Of course, similar to other diabetes medicines, Metformin achieves this by improving the body’s sensitivity to insulin, which helps the body’s cells to absorb and utilize the sugar that travels through the bloodstream more efficiently. While Metformin helps to increase insulin release, it also reduces the amount of sugar that the stomach absorbs from certain foods after meal consumption to keep your blood sugar levels from getting too high. The medicine also lowers the amount of sugar your liver produces during this process, further regulating your body’s natural sugar production.

How Does Metformin Affect Aging and Longevity?

Smiling, sporting, active senior man playing tennis

Aside from its beneficial effects on diabetes and weight loss, research suggests that Metformin can also help slow down aging and increase longevity in several ways. In 2017, a meta-analysis of 53 studies found that metformin helped reduce mortality and diseases related to aging by increasing cognitive function and lowering the risk of morbid illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and cancer [1].

Cognitive Function

There have been several studies that suggest metformin may help to improve cognition. A study focusing on non-diabetic individuals with mild cognitive impairment found that learning, memory, and attention improved after eight weeks of Metformin use [2]. In another study, researchers noted that the risk for cognitive impairment was reduced by 51% for patients that took metformin for longer than six years [3].

Cardiovascular Diseases

Although more research needs to be conducted to determine Metformin’s effects on cardiac health for non-diabetics, studies reveal that patients with type 2 diabetes and previous heart failure had fewer deaths from cardiovascular disease and a lower rate of cardiac events from taking metformin, thus reducing mortality [4].

Cancer

Various research shows that metformin may also lower the risk of cancer. In another meta-analysis of multiple studies, researchers found that deaths caused by cancer were reduced by 34%, and the overall number of diagnosed cancer cases decreased by 31% in patients who took Metformin for their diabetes [5]. Based on this data, researchers theorize that metformin may work as an effective cancer prevention treatment.

Due to the medicine’s ability to prevent and improve many health conditions known to affect mortality, many researchers theorize that patients may also be able to use Metformin for longevity and extend their lifespan.

Metformin and Age-Related Illness

In addition to diabetes and cancer, metformin has also been proven to be an effective treatment for age-related diseases and metabolic abnormalities, including:

  • Degenerative musculoskeletal diseases
  • Neurodegenerative diseases
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Tumors
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Fatty liver disease

In clinical trials for treatments used to improve degenerative musculoskeletal diseases, researchers found that metformin enhances the mineralization of osteoblasts and inhibits the expression of inflammatory factors, thus helping to protect the joints from inflammation caused by osteoarthritis and preventing the bone loss that occurs with osteoporosis. Other trials revealed that metformin could also prevent or reduce the risk of patients developing neurodegeneration caused by diseases such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and Alzheimer’s.

Further clinical trials to determine the medicine’s efficiency in treating cardiovascular diseases revealed that metformin can reduce coronary endothelial dysfunction and early coronary plaque progression that causes coronary heart disease. The studies also revealed that metformin reduced the myocardial oxygen consumption, systolic blood pressure, and oxidative stress responsible for heart failure in certain patients.

Other studies also reinforce metformin’s ability to treat several other diseases. Through separate clinical trials, Metformin has been shown to improve fatty liver disease, induce ovulation in women with polycystic ovary syndrome, and even reduce the progression of kidney disease.
The data from these clinical trials suggest that Metformin has promising potential as an all-purpose medication used to treat and improve the conditions of many illnesses, thus, helping to reverse or slow down a patient’s declining health and allowing them to live longer.

The Potential Anti-Aging Benefits of Metformin Therapy

Although it is well established that Metformin can significantly influence numerous physiological processes associated with age-related diseases, research continues to determine exactly how Metformin can affect aging. However, researchers have theorized that Metformin may possibly help to delay aging and increase longevity by optimizing those certain biological processes, including:

Insulin Sensitivity and Metabolic Regulation

Multiple studies suggest that metformin can improve mitochondrial function, which also plays a key role in regulating insulin secretion from the pancreas. Metformin also activates the AMP-activated protein kinase enzyme, which functions as an energy sensor and helps to regulate fat, protein, and glucose metabolism. Scientists have found that by activating the AMP-activated protein kinase enzyme, metformin may also mimic caloric restriction and induce changes in the liver’s glucose production, which can help restore energy balance, enhance insulin signaling and sensitivity, and promote glucose uptake in skeletal muscle [6, 7].
Since glucose dysregulation and insulin resistance are associated with many age-related disorders, many researchers believe that metformin’s beneficial effects on insulin sensitivity and metabolic regulation may help reduce other health issues related to aging, such as inflammation.

Inflammation Management

Studies reveal that metformin can affect inflammation by reducing the molecules that cause inflammation and increasing the presence of pro-inflammatory molecules. Combined with metformin’s ability to indirectly reduce inflammation through its effects on the body’s insulin response and metabolic regulation, researchers believe that metformin can also help to manage and even minimize age-related inflammation significantly [6, 7].

Protein Protection

Neurodegenerative diseases are often linked to the accumulation of damaged proteins caused by age. However, animal studies have suggested that metformin can prevent such protein damage, which may help human patients avoid developing neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s [7].

Cellular Senescence Reduction

Although it is rarely discussed, one of the most common causes of age-related diseases is cellular senescence, a process in which the cells inside the body no longer divide and function normally. In studies focused on cell activity, research revealed that metformin delays cellular senescence, which may help reduce senescent (dead) cells’ effect on the aging process[7].

Reduction of Oxidative Stress

Research suggests that high glucose levels cause oxidative stress, which has also been shown to damage cells inside the body. Some studies indicate that Metformin may have an antioxidative effect that can help prevent or reduce oxidative stress and cell damage, although more research is required to determine how the medicine achieves this [6].

Autophagy Stimulation

In addition to increasing cellular senescence, studies reveal that metformin may also promote increased autophagy, which removes damaged or dead cells and proteins from the body. Researchers believe that by increasing the removal of these cells, metformin may potentially slow down aging [7].

Can Metformin Help People Without Type 2 Diabetes?

Metformin is currently FDA-approved for off-label use to treat various conditions aside from diabetes, which means that non-diabetics can also use the drug with a prescription. Based on the promising weight loss results that diabetic patients have discovered from using Metformin, many physicians already prescribe the anti-diabetic medication as a weight loss treatment for overweight non-diabetics. Metformin for weight loss is becoming increasingly popular. Because Metformin has also shown potential anti-aging effects in diabetic patients, many researchers in the medical community theorize that Metformin may provide the same age-defying benefits to people without type 2 diabetes.

However, in a study comparing the effects of metformin on both groups, researchers found that survival rates were higher in diabetic patients who used metformin than non-diabetics that took the medicine. It also found that people with diabetes that took Metformin regularly survived longer than those who used other diabetes medications [8].

Due to this research, it is difficult to tell if Metformin’s anti-aging effects are only limited to people with diabetes. Other studies reveal that Metformin can improve metabolic and non-metabolic markers linked to aging–such as insulin, blood sugar, and DNA regeneration–in older adults [9]. Based on the results of this study, researchers conclude that Metformin may also help to reduce aging in relatively healthy people.

In addition, research suggests that Metformin may also significantly affect the length of telomeres, a chain of specific protein structures found at both ends of each chromosome that are responsible for regulating cell division and DNA repair, which can affect the biological age of your cells. As adults get older, the length of their telomere shortens with each cell division, leading to an increase in cellular senescence which, as we’ve previously mentioned, can lead to the development of age-related diseases and accelerate aging. Studies reveal that Metformin may interfere with telomere shortening by maintaining or increasing telomere length, therefore delaying the aging process and extending longevity [10].

Although the results from these studies suggest that metformin can positively impact specific physiological processes that affect the body as people age, more research may be required to confirm whether metformin can be used specifically to reduce aging and increase longevity for every individual and not just patients with type 2 diabetes.

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What Are the Possible Side Effects of Metformin?

Metformin typically causes mild gastrointestinal side effects for most patients that usually recede as they proceed through treatment. These side effects generally include:

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Indigestion
  • Heartburn
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Stomach pain

Aside from these side effects, taking metformin may also increase the risk of more severe health conditions such as lactic acidosis, a condition in which lactic acid produced in the muscles accumulates in the bloodstream. Long-term use of Metformin may also decrease the amount of vitamin B12 that your body absorbs during food consumption, which can lead to Vitamin B12 deficiency. People with diabetes who are already in treatment will also need to watch their glucose levels while taking Metformin, as the medicine’s ability to lower blood sugar levels may cause hypoglycemia when combined with other diabetic medications such as insulin and sulfonylureas.

Who Is Suitable for Metformin?

Currently, metformin is primarily prescribed to people with high blood levels caused by diabetes mellitus and type 2 diabetes, which includes most adults and children who are ten years or older.
However, metformin is also approved by the FDA as an off-label treatment for various medical conditions, including gestational diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome, and fatty liver disease. And thanks to the medicine’s ability to stimulate weight loss, obese and overweight patients can also utilize Metformin as a weight-loss treatment to shed excess pounds and reduce their body weight.

Unfortunately, despite its benefits, Metformin isn’t suitable for everyone. Many people with other more severe health issues may not be able to take Metformin due to their pre-existing conditions. This can include:

  • Liver or kidney issues
  • Prior heart failure or heart attack
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Difficulties with blood circulation and breathing

It is imperative that you disclose your full medical history and discuss all of the side effects and potential health risks regarding Metformin with your doctor before considering treatment. They will ultimately determine if Metformin will work as a possible treatment for you and can recommend other treatments if they believe the medicine may pose a greater threat to your health.

At Renew Vitality, we specialize in using Metformin for several purposes, including diabetes, weight loss, and regenerative medical treatments. Our physicians believe that metformin can provide numerous anti-aging benefits to maximize your health and increase your longevity. As such, we prescribe customized Metformin treatments to accommodate your physiology and help you feel stronger and enjoy a long-lasting and fulfilling quality of life. Contact Renew Vitality at 1-800-785-3945 and schedule a consultation with one of our specialists to find out more about how Metformin can help delay the effects of aging so you can work on extending your lifespan today.

References:

  1. Metformin in aging and aging-related diseases: clinical applications and relevant mechanisms
  2. Effects of the Insulin Sensitizer Metformin in Alzheimer’s Disease: Pilot Data from a Randomized Placebo-Controlled Crossover Study
  3. Long-term metformin usage and cognitive function among older adults with diabetes
  4. Risk of Death and Heart Failure among Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Treated by Metformin and Nonmetformin Monotherapy: A Real-World Study
  5. Metformin and Cancer Risk and Mortality: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis taking into account Biases and Confounders
  6. The Current and Potential Therapeutic Use of Metformin-The Good Old Drug
  7. Benefits of Metformin in Attenuating the Hallmarks of Aging
  8. Metformin reduces all-cause mortality and diseases of ageing independent of its effect on diabetes control: A systematic review and meta-analysis
  9. Metformin regulates metabolic and nonmetabolic pathways in skeletal muscle and subcutaneous adipose tissues of older adults
  10. Metformin: A Potential Candidate for Targeting Aging Mechanisms
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FAQ

Can metformin slow down aging?

Various studies suggest that metformin can improve and reduce certain physiological processes that impact the development of age-related diseases that can accelerate the aging process. Thus, many researchers theorize that Metformin may delay aging by improving health and reducing the severity of risk factors that increase mortality.

Does Metformin help with weight loss?

In many studies, Metformin has been shown to help overweight patients with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 27 kg lose anywhere from 5% to 6% in weight loss after six months of treatment.

Is Metformin safe?

Metformin is considered relatively safe for people with type 2 diabetes and non-diabetic patients. However, most patients may experience side effects such as nausea, upset stomach, and diarrhea, but these are usually mild and tend to recede over time. More serious side effects, such as lactic acidosis and Vitamin B12 deficiency associated with Metformin, are usually rare and least likely to occur. Of course, since Metformin does work to lower glucose, diabetics and patients taking other glucose-lowering medications such as insulin and sulfonylureas may have an increased risk of developing hypoglycemia.

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