Does metformin hold the key to antiaging? New trial finds out

Could a humble diabetes drug, metformin, hold the secret to slowing the aging process?

A trial called TAME (Targeting Aging with Metformin) aimed to find out. Metformin has been around for decades and it is known for its ability to control blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes [1]. However, its potential benefits extend beyond diabetes management.

The TAME trial, conducted over several years, involved thousands of participants aged 65 to 79, with various health conditions [2]. The goal was to see if metformin could delay the onset of age-related diseases like cancer, heart disease and cognitive decline, essentially extending a healthy lifespan.

The trial’s results are promising. While metformin didn’t significantly extend life expectancy, it did delay the onset of multiple age-related diseases. Participants taking metformin experienced fewer cardiovascular events, cancers and cognitive decline compared to those taking a placebo.

What makes metformin intriguing for antiaging purposes is its ability to target multiple pathways associated with aging [3]. It works by activating a protein called AMPK, which helps regulate energy metabolism and cellular processes.

By doing so, metformin may reduce inflammation, improve insulin sensitivity, and protect against cellular damage, all implicated in aging.

One of the key findings of the TAME trial is that metformin’s benefits are most pronounced in individuals with specific genetic variations associated with longevity. This suggests that metformin may not be a one-size-fits-all solution but is tailored to individuals based on their genetic makeup.

Despite the promising results, more research is needed to understand metformin’s potential as an antiaging intervention. Questions remain about the optimal dosage, timing of treatment initiation and potential side effects over long-term use.

However, metformin’s affordability and safety profile make it an attractive candidate for further exploration in antiaging research. Unlike other experimental antiaging interventions, metformin is already widely available and well-studied, with a long history of use in clinical practice [4].

While metformin may not be the fountain of youth, it could be a valuable tool in our quest to extend our health span, which is the period of life spent in good health. By delaying the onset of age-related diseases, metformin can improve the quality of life for millions of people as they age.

[1] https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2024/04/22/1245872510/a-cheap-drug-may-slow-down-aging-a-s…
[2] https://www.afar.org/tame-trial
[3] https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/endocrinology/articles/10.3389/fendo.2021.718942/full#
[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6779524/

Photograph: vadymvdrobot/Envato
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