Metformin Is Associated With Slightly Reduced Risk of Colorectal Cancer and Moderate Survival Benefits in Diabetes Mellitus: A Meta-Analysis

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To systematically assess the effect of metformin on colorectal cancer (CRC) risk and mortality in type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) patients.

We conducted a systematic search of PubMed, Web of Science, and the Cochrane Library databases for relevant articles before August 2015. Two investigators identified and extracted data independently. We adopted adjusted estimates to calculate summary estimates with 95% confidence interval (CI) using either a fixed-effects or a random-effects model. Subgroup and sensitivity analyses were conducted to evaluate the robustness of the pooled results. The risk of publication bias was assessed by examining funnel plot asymmetry as well as Begg test and Egger test.

Fifteen studies on CRC incidence and 6 studies on CRC survival were finally included in our meta-analysis. The pooled odds ratio (OR) of observational studies illustrated that a slight 10% reduction of CRC incidence was associated with metformin use (OR = 0.90, 95% CI: 0.85–0.96). Furthermore, the pooled hazard ratio (HR) revealed an improved survival outcome for metformin users in CRC patients compared to nonusers (HR = 0.68, 95% CI: 0.58–081). There was no publication bias across studies.

Our meta-analysis demonstrated that metformin therapy could slightly reduce CRC incidence and moderately improve the survival outcomes in patients with T2DM. More prospective studies are warranted to certify this protective association.

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