Monitoring vitamin B12 in women treated with metformin for primary prevention of breast cancer and age-related chronic diseases

Antonio Mastroianni, Chiara Maura Ciniselli, Rossella Panella, Alessandra Macciotta, Adalberto Cavalleri, Elisabetta Venturelli, Francesca Taverna, Arabella Mazzocchi, Eleonora Bruno, Paola Muti, Franco Berrino, Paolo Verderio, Daniele Morelli, Patrizia Pasanisi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Metformin (MET) is currently being used in several trials for cancer prevention or treatment in non-diabetics. However, long-term MET use in diabetics is associated with lower serum levels of total vitamin B12. In a pilot randomized controlled trial of the Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) and MET, whose participants were characterized by different components of metabolic syndrome, we tested the effect of MET on serum levels of B12, holo transcobalamin II (holo-TC-II), and methylmalonic acid (MMA). The study was conducted on 165 women receiving MET or placebo for three years. Results of the study indicate a significant overall reduction in both serum total B12 and holo-TC-II levels according with MET-treatment. In particular, in the MET group 26 of 81 patients and 10 of the 84 placebo-treated subjects had B12 below the normal threshold (<221 pmol/L) at the end of the study. Considering jointly all B12, Holo-TC-II, and MMA, 13 of the 165 subjects (10 MET and 3 placebo-treated) had at least two deficits in the biochemical parameters at the end of the study, without reporting clinical signs. Although our results do not affect whether women remain in the trial, B12 monitoring for MET-treated individuals should be implemented.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1020
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


  • Holotranscobalamin ii
  • Metformin
  • Methylmalonic acid
  • Vitamin B

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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