Although the drug metformin is considered the gold standard in the management of type 2 diabetes, a study by a group of French researchers published in this week's PLoS Medicine suggests that the long-term benefits of this drug compared with the risks are not clearly established—an important finding given that currently, thousands of people around the world are regularly taking metformin to help control their blood sugar levels in the belief that it also has long-lasting health benefits.
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."
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