A new report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention says more than 29 million American adults have diabetes, and a quarter of them don’t even know it. That’s up from 26 million in 2010. Another 86 million — a third of the adult population — have blood sugar levels high enough to mark them as pre-diabetic.
While about 5 % of people with diabetes are diagnosed with type 1, an autoimmune disease usually diagnosed in childhood, the vast majority have type 2 diabetes, usually caused by non-healthy eating habits and a lack of exercise. High glucose levels damage small blood vessels, so, if left without proper treatment diabetes can cause serious damage to heart, kidneys, eyes, and other organs, as well as to lower limbs (sometimes resulting in amputations).
Diabetes type 2 is effectively treated by some drugs, particularly metformin, a cost-effective drug belonging to the group of biguanides — drugs capable of lowering glucose levels. Metformin has been in use for a few decades and is considered a safe drug. It produces an effect protecting against potentially life threatening complications of diabetes.
More recently, metformin has also been gaining increasing attention from researchers because of its geroprotective effect, i.e. an ability to prolong lifespan.