Elderly man
An elderly man stands in Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro September 13, 2011. Reuters/Ricardo Moraes

Controversy would likely meet an ongoing New York study that looks into the potential of diabetes drug Metformin as an anti-ageing pill. The medicine for Type 2 diabetics is controversial because some patients are wary of the side effects of the medication to help control blood sugar levels.

The new research being undertaken by the Institute for Ageing Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York will have 3,000 non-diabetics as subjects. The institute picked people without glucose impairment after another study in 2014 at Cardiff University found metformin users live 15 percent longer than comparable healthy people, reports DNAIndia.

“Evidence from animal models and in vitro studies suggests that metformin changes metabolic and cellular processes associated with age-related conditions,” said Nir Barzilai, the institute’s director. He adds that the institute had discussed the proposed trial with the US Food and Drug Administration.

They persuaded the FDA to include ageing as an ailment that is treatable instead as a natural process that can’t be stopped. The trial, expected to cost $46.5 million, would have patients aged 70 to 80 at 15 separate centres whom the researchers would follow for seven years. There will be a group that would take metformin and a control group.

According to Healthnewsline, prolonged use of metformin has several side effects such as depression, loss of appetite, reduced mental ability to think clearly, fatigue and breathlessness. That study, on the initiative of the Indian government, likewise suggested that long-term use of metformin causes vitamin B-12 deficiency which triggers microvascular and neuropathy complications in the body.

The Indian study points out that because many of its citizens are vegetarians, acquiring vitamin B-12 deficiency because of metformin worsens their condition further.

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