Metformin ER Recalled Again Due to High Levels of Cancer-Causing Ingredient
Over the past several months, there have been multiple recalls of the diabetes drug metformin. In this case, the word “multiple” is actually an understatement. To date, there have been 179 metformin ER products recalled. The FDA has provided a complete list of recalled metformin products on their website. This most recent recall was issued by the manufacturer on October 2, 2020.
All of the recalls have been due to the detection of unacceptably high levels of N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a probable cancer-causing agent. The FDA is continuing to investigate where the NMDA is coming from and how it is getting into these metformin products.
It's important to note that all of the metformin recalls thus far have been for the extended release version of the drug. None of the immediate release metformin products, which are the most commonly prescribed, seem to be affected at this time.
If you take metformin ER and are concerned, you can contact your pharmacist to see if the metformin you received is one that has been recalled. If so, contact your doctor for other options, such as possibly switching to the immediate release metformin. The FDA warns,
Patients taking recalled ER metformin should continue taking it until a doctor or pharmacist gives them a replacement or a different treatment option. It could be dangerous for patients with type 2 diabetes to stop taking their metformin without first talking to their health care professional.
Metformin's Potential Longevity Benefits
Metformin is primarily known as a drug used to treat type 2 diabetes. In fact, it is considered to be the first-line drug for treating diabetes – not only in the U.S. but worldwide. However, new research is showing promise that metformin may have a lot more to offer beyond just treating diabetes. Studies are suggesting that metformin may also provide cardioprotection, neuroprotection (reducing dementia and stroke risk), and may even possibly offer benefits for cancer prevention and treatment.
Ongoing research into the anti-aging benefits of metformin continues. The article “Metformin as a Tool to Target Aging” published in the June 2016 issue of Cell Metabolism states,
If metformin can target and delay aging, its administration should be associated with fewer age-related diseases in general, rather than merely the decreased incidence of a single disease. Data from several randomized clinical trials and multiple observational studies provide evidence for such an effect, which would not be expected from glucose lowering alone.
The journal article also explains how metformin targets multiple pathways of aging:
Metformin has been shown to affect the receptors for cytokines, insulin, IGF-1, and adiponectin, all pathways that are activated with aging and, when modulated, are associated with longevity.
It inhibits the inflammatory pathway and activates AMPK, increasing inhibition of mTOR, which seems to be a major target to modulate aging.
Through some of these mechanisms, it also modulates oxidative stress and removes senescent cells, although exactly how it does this is unclear.
Jointly, these processes affect inflammation, cellular survival, stress defense, autophagy, and protein synthesis, which are major biological outcomes associated with aging/longevity.
Barzilai N, Crandall JP, Kritchevsky SB, Espeland MA. Metformin as a tool to target aging. Cell Metab. 2016 Jun 14; 23(6): 1060–1065. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2016.05.011