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The Science Behind Metformin & The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP)


The Science Behind Metformin & The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP)

Quick overview of what you’ll learn from this blog post:

  • What is diabetes?

  • What is Metformin?

  • Brief overview of DPP and DPPOS

  • How we can help with Metformin

If you read our recent article on Metformin and insulin sensitivity, you’ll remember that Metformin is routinely prescribed around the world for patients with diabetes, and also to help prevent diabetes from developing in the first place. In this article we’re going to take a look at the outcomes of a major study on this exact topic, but before we dive into how Metformin can potentially help with preventing diabetes, let’s have a quick refresher.


The first thing you need to know is that there are three main types of diabetes – Type 1, Type 2 and gestational diabetes – and they’re all driven by different things. However, what they all have in common is that the body is not producing enough of the hormone insulin to enable cells to take up sugar from the bloodstream, which results in blood sugar levels becoming elevated. Unfortunately, these high blood sugar levels actually cause damage to nerves, blood vessels and organs, including the pancreas, which further reduces its ability to create insulin.


Prediabetes is when a person’s blood sugar levels are high, but not quite high enough to be considered Type 2 diabetes. People with prediabetes are much more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes, but the good news is that this can often be prevented with lifestyle changes, and also potentially with some help from Metformin.


What is Metformin?

Metformin is the world’s most widely-prescribed diabetes drug, and it’s been in use in patients since the 1950s. Safe and well tolerated, Metformin works in three main ways:

  1. Decreases sugar absorption through the intestines Through several complex biochemical steps, Metformin decreases the absorption of sugar through the intestines, so less sugar makes it to the bloodstream.

  2. Makes cells more sensitive to insulin Metformin increases the activation of insulin receptors on the surface of liver, muscle and fat cells, allowing these cells to take in more glucose from the bloodstream.

  3. Lowers sugar production Did you know that your body naturally produces sugar? Most sugar production happens in the liver, and Metformin reduces the amount of sugar our livers produce.


What’s the 411 on the DPP?


The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) was a large randomized clinical trial run in collaboration by 27 research centers across the US from 1996 to 2001. The study included over 3000 participants from varying racial backgrounds and with an average age of 51 at baseline. One of the DPP’s key findings was that Metformin alone, with no compulsory changes to diet or physical activity, resulted in a 31% reduction in the incidence of patients developing Type 2 diabetes.


At the conclusion of the DPP study in 2001, 88% of the original participants agreed to continued evaluation as part of the Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study (DPPOS), and some very positive results have since emerged, such as:

If you’d like to learn more, check out this excellent summary video of the DPP and its findings:

How we can help with Metformin

At AgelessRx, our physicians have many years of experience in helping people optimize their insulin resistance, and Metformin is one of the safe and effective tools they could use. If you’re interested in a free online evaluation with a licensed medical professional, click here.

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