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Diabetes Drug Metformin Linked to Lower Lung Cancer Rate in Mice


5 Star

Diabetes Drug Metformin Linked to Lower Lung Cancer Rate in Mice

Our Review Summary

It doesn’t take much to please us sometimes – but putting "mice" in the headline goes a long way most days.  If you’re going to report this stuff, you better be up front about the level of research.  And this story went on to include other caveats, including an ending quote that was an apt conclusion – "interesting and thought provoking" but "what’s proven in humans is totally another level."


Why This Matters

It is interesting and thought-provoking to consider the potential impact of a widely-available, generally safe and inexpensive generic medicine being used in this new way.  But the research – and the potential – deserve to be wrapped in the caveats that were clear in this story.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?


The story explains that "Metformin (originally marketed as Glucophage, though it is now available as an inexpensive generic) has been in use for more than two decades and is currently prescribed to 40 million Americans." Good enough to get a satisfactory score.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

Like the Reuters story, HealthDay gave only relative risk reduction data, not absolute.  Please read our brief primer and learn from it.

Why not tell us 34 percent fewer tumors THAN WHAT? 

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?


At least the story noted, "no one knows if metform in safe in non-diabetic populations but some clinical trials are starting to look at the issue."

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?


Adequate overview of how the research was done, the likely mechanism of action, and a broader look at some other related human research – all points done better than in the competing Reuters story.

And considerable credit goes to HealthDay for putting mouse research in the headline – something Reuters didn’t do.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


No disease mongering in this story.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?


Several sources interviewed – including one who appears to be independent of this research.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?


This job did a better job of at least mentioning alternative approaches and also other research.  This quote even touched on the possible future decision-making impact of this research: "All other things being equal, many diabetics face a choice of oral agents, and early evidence that metformin may have an effect on the oncology side may increasingly play a role in decision-making."

But, importantly, the story ended with another quote about the new research:  "interesting and thought-provoking, what’s proven in humans is totally another level."

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The current widespread use and availability of metformin is clear from the story

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


The story gives at least a brief overview of past research – including evidence of impact of metformin diabetic people.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?


It’s clear that this story did not rely solely or largely on a news release.

Total Score: 9 of 10 Satisfactory


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