cancer, weight loss drugs, study

Weight Loss Medications Linked To Lower Cancer Risk, According To Study

According to a study, among 13 cancers commonly associated with obesity, GLP-1 drugs resulted in a decreased risk of developing cancer in 10 of them.

A recent study suggests that GLP-1 drugs, which include widely prescribed weight-loss medications like Ozempic and Wegovy, may offer substantial benefits in lowering cancer risks among diabetic patients. The research highlights a significant decrease in the incidence of various cancers such as gallbladder cancer, meningioma, pancreatic cancer, and hepatocellular carcinoma (a type of liver cancer) associated with the use of these drugs. Additionally, the study indicates a reduced risk for ovarian cancer, colorectal cancer, multiple myeloma, esophageal cancer, endometrial cancer, and kidney cancer.

According to the study published in JAMA Network Open, among 13 cancers commonly associated with obesity, GLP-1 drugs resulted in a decreased risk of developing cancer in 10 of them. Only post-menopausal breast cancer, stomach cancer, and thyroid cancer were not applied decreased risk from the use of GLP-1 class drugs. 

According to CNN, researchers from the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and the MetroHealth system analyzed the medical records of more than 1.7 million people with type-2 diabetes. As it relates to the thyroid, the study authors note that those who are on the medicines should take note of warnings about thyroid complications, because other studies note their negative interaction regarding insulin production and the thyroid. 

Although more information is needed about how the reduced risk of cancer is related to the scale of weight loss provided by the drugs, the study nonetheless says that the findings give “preliminary evidence of the potential benefit of GLP-1RAs for cancer prevention in high-risk populations and support further preclinical and clinical studies.”

Lindsey Wang, a student at the Center for Science, Health and Society and one of the authors of the study, told Healthline that some of the findings went against some of their initial hypotheses. “Most notably, we saw a decrease [of] significant risk across most gastrointestinal cancers. So, that goes all the way from your esophagus down to your colon. This is pretty interesting because these cancers usually have a poor prognosis after you are diagnosed with it,” Wang said. “Something that did surprise us a little was that we found no association between using these GLP-1 RA’s [receptor agonists] and your breast cancer risk, which was contrary to our initial expectation.”

Jennie Stanford, an obesity medicine physician who works for Intellihealth, told the outlet that the drugs are just beginning to be understood. “I think we’re at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding the benefits of the GLP-1 receptor agonists,” Stanford said. “As we learn more and more about what they’re able to do, I think we’ll be able to see possibilities for using them in dementia, in obesity-associated cancers and other medical problems that are linked back to the same underlying mechanism.”

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