Diabetes drug metformin may protect hips and knees

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A large new study based on health insurance data from more than 40,000 patients with type 2 diabetes found that those who used metformin to manage high blood sugar levels were less likely to need total joint replacement.

The research, published this week in Journal of the Canadian Medical Association by scientists from China, Taiwan, and Australia, showed an association between regular use of metformin and about a 30 percent reduced likelihood of needing total knee replacement or total hip replacement. This association does not mean that metformin has been conclusively proven to cause a lower rate of joint replacements, according to the study authors.

Joint replacements are a common treatment for people with advanced osteoarthritis, a chronic joint disorder that often leaves seniors in pain and unable to walk or perform other daily functions. Diabetes has been linked to a higher risk of osteoarthritis.

In the United States, the number of total knee replacement and total hip replacement surgeries is projected to reach 572,000 per year by 2030. No medication is currently known to prevent or reverse osteoarthritis.


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