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Age-related skeletal muscle mass and strength is a leading cause of the functional decline and loss of independence in older adults. Resistance training exercise is a highly effective strategy for maintaining or building muscle mass. A new study suggests that metformin, a drug commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes, blunts the effects of resistance training.
Metformin is in a class of drugs called biguanides, which act by decreasing liver gluconeogenesis (the production of glucose in the liver), decreasing glucose uptake in the gut, and increasing overall glucose utilization by improving insulin sensitivity in skeletal muscle and fat tissue. Scientific evidence suggests that metformin modulates aging processes to improve healthspan and extend lifespan in multiple organisms.
The present study involved 94 healthy men and women aged 65 years and older who were randomized to take either a 1,700-milligram dose of metformin daily (a typical dose prescribed for diabetes and prediabetes) or a placebo for 14 weeks. The participants also performed supervised resistance training for the duration of the study. At the end of the study, participants who took the placebo exhibited greater gains in lean body mass and thigh muscle mass than those who took metformin.
Although metformin is a safe and effective treatment for type 2 diabetes, these findings underscore concerns about the possible negative effects of metformin use in healthy older adults.