Diabetes, metformin and cancer risk in myotonic dystrophy type I

Myotonic dystrophy type I (DM1) is an autosomal dominant multisystem disorder characterized by myotonia and muscle weakness. Type 2 diabetes (T2D) and cancer have been shown to be part of the DM1 phenotype. Metformin, a well-established agent for the management of T2D, is thought to have cancer-preventive effects in the general population.

In this study, the authors aimed to assess the association between T2D, metformin use and the risk of cancer in DM1 patients. They identified a cohort of 913 DM1 patients and an age-, sex- and clinic-matched cohort of 12,318 DM1-free controls from the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink, a large primary care records database. The researchers used Cox regression models to assess cancer risk in T2D patients who were metformin users or nonusers compared to patients without T2D. Separate analyses were conducted for DM1 patients and controls. T2D was more prevalent in DM1 than in controls. DM1 patients with T2D, compared to those without T2D, were more likely to develop cancer, but not if they were treated with metformin. Among controls, we observed no significant associations between T2D and cancer risk in either users or nonusers of Metformin.

These results show an association between T2D and cancer risk in DM1 patients and may provide new insights into the possible benefits of Metformin use in DM1.


Diabetes, Metformin, and Cancer Risk in Myotonic Dystrophy Type I. Alsaggaf R, Pfeiffer RM, Wang Y, St George DMM, Zhan M, Wagner KR, Amr S, Greene MH, Gadalla SM. Int J Cancer. 2019 Nov 20.