Research Papers:

Metformin and lung cancer risk in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus

Chin-Hsiao Tseng _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:41132-41142. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.17066

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Chin-Hsiao Tseng1,2,3

1Department of Internal Medicine, National Taiwan University College of Medicine, Taipei, Taiwan

2Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan

3Division of Environmental Health and Occupational Medicine of the National Health Research Institutes, Zhunan, Taiwan

Correspondence to:

Chin-Hsiao Tseng, email: [email protected]

Keywords: diabetes mellitus, lung cancer, metformin, Taiwan

Received: November 10, 2016    Accepted: March 22, 2017    Published: April 12, 2017


This study evaluated whether metformin might reduce lung cancer risk. The reimbursement database of the Taiwan’s National Health Insurance was used. A sample of 15414 never users and 280159 ever users of metformin (original sample) and a 1:1 matched-pairs of ever and never users (n=15414 in each group, matched sample) were recruited from patients with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes mellitus during 1999-2005. They were followed until December 31, 2011. Cox regression incorporated with the inverse probability of treatment weighting using propensity score was used to estimate hazard ratios. Results showed that the respective incidence of lung cancer in ever and never users was 173.36 and 292.65 per 100000 person-years in the original sample; and was 211.71 and 292.65, respectively, in the matched sample. The overall hazard ratios (95% confidence intervals) of 0.586 (0.509-0.674) in the original sample and 0.717 (0.584-0.881) in the matched sample suggested a significantly lower risk among metformin users. Hazard ratios comparing the first (<22.60 months), second (22.60-46.67 months) and third (>46.67 months) tertile of cumulative duration of metformin use to never users was 1.163 (1.005-1.348), 0.612 (0.526-0.711) and 0.176 (0.148-0.210), respectively, in the original sample; and was 1.465 (1.131-1.897), 0.758 (0.566-1.016) and 0.228 (1.460-0.357) in the respective tertile of the matched sample. Sensitivity analyses after excluding patients with certain risk factors of cancer and subgroup analyses supported a favorable effect of metformin. In conclusion,metformin use may reduce lung cancer risk in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.

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