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March 19, 2002

Research: Causes and Prevention

Question from Oak Harbor, Ohio, USA:

I am a 30 year old overweight female. I was just told today that I have insulin resistance, and I am wondering about the use of Glucophage for this problem. Since I don't have signs/symptoms of hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia, I am very disturbed by this revelation. Is Glucophage intended for use in insulin resistance? Do I need to be checking my blood sugar regularly?


In a recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, data compiled through a cross-sectional survey, referred to as NHANES III, demonstrated that 25% of the American population has insulin resistance. Please realize this is a common problem and is the rule for overweight individuals.

The use of Glucophage [metformin] for insulin resistance without frank diabetes has been used in selected population of insulin resistant individuals. These include women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome who have irregular menses, and it has been used in individuals with impaired glucose tolerance (different than generic insulin resistance) as a strategy for prevention of type 2 diabetes. Data on the use of metformin, to my knowledge, is not available for the general population, in terms of weight loss, blood pressure effect, and the prevention of diabetes.

I would recommend that you work hard on lifestyle measures, including diet, exercise, and healthy choices. I would also recommend you be tested for diabetes yearly or if you have symptoms, including frequent urination, thirst, rapid weight loss, and blurring of vision.