Metformin for Anti-Aging: Risks & Benefits

Is Metformin approved for Anti-Aging?

In short, Metformin is not approved for anti-aging. It is approved and still considered a first-line oral medication to treat diabetes. There is some controversy over whether it can also help prevent pre-diabetics from becoming diabetics. Metformin is also used for other medical conditions such as polycystic ovary disease.

There is no single definition for “anti-aging,” and those familiar with my blogs know I dislike the term. Unfortunately, it has become a widely used term today.* It cannot be approved to fight aging because aging has not been classified as a pathological disease (unless you refer to the WHO, which has considered it as such since 2015). There have been no peer-reviewed, randomized prospective studies conducted on metformin in humans to prevent “aging.” However, when discussing its potential to reverse or slow down the signs and markers of premature aging in animal models, the story may be different.

Is Metformin proven to prevent aging in humans?

Not really. However, if we focus on type II diabetes, which I consider the most severe condition that can lead to premature aging throughout the body, then one might argue in favor of Metformin. When integrated into a comprehensive lifestyle approach, it helps mitigate the harmful effects of glycosylation, which is central to the development of diabetes.

In the November 2023 issue of Vogue magazine, some “authorities” in the field of ‘longevity’ were quoted claiming that Metformin is proven to prevent mortality, cancer, dementia, and diabetes. Others suggest it activates the “longevity enzyme.” However, this assertion isn’t entirely accurate. It’s important to note that the longevity market generates billions of dollars annually, leading to potential conflicts of interest.

Metformin and its derivative from the lilac plant have been used since the 1600s in France to treat various conditions. It’s interesting to see how little has changed in 400 years. So, what’s my perspective after reviewing the research?

What are the benefits of using Metformin for Anti-Aging?

To help reveal the current facts, I refer to a great review paper published in March 2022.

Metformin has been shown to affect some diseases mostly associated with aging or dying:

  1. Lifespan Extension: Studies indicate that metformin can extend the lifespan of mice.
  2. Musculoskeletal Health: There is some evidence suggesting that metformin might offer minimal benefits for inflammatory musculoskeletal conditions associated with aging, such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. However, these findings are primarily based on preclinical trials or assessments of related biomarkers.
  3. Cardiovascular Health: Metformin has been found to positively impact lipid profiles and cardiovascular health. It has even shown promise in improving coronary plaque in pre-diabetic individuals.
  4. Neurodegenerative Diseases: The role of Metformin in preventing neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s remains controversial. More research is needed in this area. (Refer to the above-referenced article.)
  5. Cancer Prevention and Treatment: Some studies suggest that Metformin may help prevent or treat certain types of cancer.** For example, it may have a positive impact on hormone-sensitive breast cancer by improving hormonal indices. Additionally, metformin has been observed to alter the methylation profile of colon cancer cells, potentially contributing to its anti-colon cancer effects.

As the authors summarize: “Metformin has significant effects in anti-aging and in attenuating aging-related diseases and displays a promising perspective in aging-related clinical applications. However, there are several important issues that need to be addressed…more multicenter, large-scale, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trials are required to further elucidate the effects of Metformin on aging and major aging-related diseases.”

What are the side effects of Metformin?

The primary risks of using Metformin include:

  • Hypoglycemia: This can lead to passing out, which is particularly dangerous when driving or working.
  • Gastrointestinal upset: Starting with a low dose, taking the medication with food, and opting for the extended-release version can help mitigate this side effect.
  • B12 deficiency: Metformin use can contribute to B12 deficiency, which may result in anemia, nerve damage, or even coma. It’s advisable to take a B complex supplement and monitor B12 levels while on this medication.
  • Not recommended for moderate to severe kidney disease: Individuals with these conditions should avoid using Metformin.

Please refer to the NHS site for more information.

What are the doses of Metformin used for “Anti-Aging” or “Longevity”?

As mentioned earlier, no randomized, double-blinded clinical trials have used Metformin for anti-aging purposes, and this endpoint isn’t universally defined or accepted. The varying dosing and models used in preclinical studies make it challenging to apply in real-life scenarios. The effectiveness of Metformin may also depend on the stage of life at which it is used. If you are pre-diabetic or diabetic, using Metformin may be beneficial. It is advisable to start with a low dose and gradually increase it. However, Metformin should only be a part of a larger, safer plan to improve your health.

I advocate for an individualized approach to treatment, as there is no universal solution for everyone’s health. There is no magic pill, shot, cream, or “fountain of youth” that can guarantee optimal health. Achieving and maintaining good health requires a comprehensive and caring approach, tailored to each individual’s needs and circumstances.

Life is a long haul; don’t risk it. This is what we do, and have done for over 20 years at Unison Pro-Youth Institute in Palm Beach. Please call and let us help you. Or fill out our contact form to request more information.

* I much prefer the terms pro-health or pro-youth—thus the naming of my institution, Unison Pro-Youth.

** It’s far better to get the recommended proper screening for cancers so that they are caught early and prognosis is far better. A healthy lifestyle is proven to help prevent most cancers.