Can Metformin Increase Risk of Kidney Disease?

Researchers find it ups the risk when compared to another diabetes drug, but that risk still remains low.



A recent study found that people with Type 2 diabetes taking metformin had a 50 percent increase in the risk of acute dialysis when compared to people with Type 2 diabetes taking sulfonylureas. It should be noted, however, that the overall risk of acute dialysis was still low for both groups.

According to a Physician’s Briefing report, Danish researchers tracked 168,443 people with Type 2 diabetes who began drug treatment for the condition; those tracked began taking either metformin or sulfonylurea between 2000 and 2012. Roughly 71 percent of those tracked took metformin. After one year of treatment, the risk of acute dialysis was 92.4 per 100,000 for those taking sulfonylurea and 142.7 per 100,00 for those taking metformin; this represents a 50.3 increase for the metformin-taking group.

It should be noted that the overall risk of acute dialysis for those taking either drug was still extremely low, being either 0.09 percent or 0.14 percent respectively, and the difference between those two percentages even smaller. To put it perspective, untreated diabetes poses an exponentially higher risk for kidney disease than taking metformin. Still, it is important for people with diabetes to have their medical health regularly monitored by medical professionals so that potential problems can be detected as quickly as possible. It is estimated that only 10 percent of the 26 million Americans living with disease are aware they have it.


Symptoms of kidney disease include fatigue, dry skin, frequent urination, blood in the urine, foamy urine, persistent puffiness around the eyes, swollen ankles and feet, poor appetite, or cramped muscles.

Learn more at: http://www.physiciansbriefing.com/Article.asp?AID=714100

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Kate Doughty is a third-year student at the University of Virginia, where she is studying English with an area concentration in literary prose. She can be reached at kdoughty@epscomm.com.