Metformin May Substantially Reduce Dementia Risk in African-Americans

African-Americans in the Veterans Affairs health system who were older than 50 and treated with metformin[1] had a much lower dementia risk[2] than similar patients taking a class of diabetes drugs known as sulfonylureas[3], according to new research in the Annals of Family Medicine[4]. Metformin is one of the most commonly used diabetes treatments, with more than 120 million people being prescribed[5] the medicine worldwide.

African-Americans are more likely to experience cognitive issues[6] from type 2 diabetes[7] than white patients. To evaluate the effects of metformin on dementia among African-Americans, researchers looked at medical records from 73,761 patients, 10,559 of whom were African-American.


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After accounting for variables that could affect dementia risk, the researchers found that among all patients, compared to taking sulfonlyureas, using metformin was linked with a significantly lower risk for dementia in African-Americans, but not in whites. In those 65–74, metformin use was associated with significantly lower dementia risk in both races.

“Providers may want to start metformin earlier for patients with type 2 diabetes who are less than 75 years of age,” noted study author Jeffrey F. Scherrer, PhD[9], in an interview with Healio Primary Care. “This does not mean patients should receive metformin if they are diabetes-free, but it is possible that metformin in prediabetes[10] and immediate starts of the medication in nearly-diagnosed diabetes might result in reducing risk for dementia in African-Americans.”

Want to learn more about metformin? Read “What to Know About Metformin,”[11] “Diabetes Medicine: Metformin,”[12] and “Metformin: The Unauthorized Biography.”[13]

Diane Fennell[14]

Diane Fennell

Senior Digital Editor for, Fennell has 16 years’ experience specializing in diabetes and related health conditions. Based in New York City, she has a degree from Columbia University.

  1. metformin:
  2. much lower dementia risk:
  3. sulfonylureas:
  4. research in the Annals of Family Medicine:
  5. 120 million people being prescribed:
  6. cognitive issues:
  7. type 2 diabetes:
  8. sign up for our free newsletter:
  9. noted study author Jeffrey F. Scherrer, PhD:
  10. prediabetes:
  11. “What to Know About Metformin,”:
  12. “Diabetes Medicine: Metformin,”:
  13. “Metformin: The Unauthorized Biography.”:
  14. [Image]: //

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Diane Fennell: Diane Fennell has been an editor at Diabetes Self-Management magazine since 2003. She is currently the Editorial Director. (Diane Fennell is not a medical professional.)

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