In a recent study the benefits and the risks of taking metformin for type 2 diabetes have been examined.
Using information from 13 randomized controlled trials (which included a total of more than 13,000 patients) the authors found that compared to other drugs, metformin had no effect on the risk of death from all causes or on the risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, metformin had no significant effect on the risk of developing cardiovascular conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure.
The authors conclude: "We cannot exclude beyond any reasonable doubt that metformin use increases or decreases the risk of all-cause mortality or cardiovascular mortality."
They explain: "The specific efficacy of metformin to prevent death or cardiovascular events has not been proven by current studies. The number and quality of available studies are insufficient."
The authors recommend: "Further studies are needed to clarify this problematic situation. Metformin may not be the best comparator [drug] for evaluating new hypoglycaemic [blood sugar-lowering] drugs. However, it is not clear which comparator [drug] has the most favourable risk/benefit ratio."
It is essential that patients taking metformin who have any concerns do not stop the drug without consulting their doctor, especially as the authors conclude that "Compared with other antidiabetic treatments, metformin may be the one with the least disadvantages. It does not induce hypoglycaemia, weight gain, and heart failure. It is also associated with a reduced rate of mortality among patients with atherothrombosis."