Study: Drugs like Ozempic linked to lower cancer risks 

New evidence suggests blockbuster weight loss and diabetes drugs may lower patients’ risk of developing some common types of cancer that are closely linked to obesity. Glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonists (GLP-1RAs) are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for treating type 2 diabetes (T2D). GLP-1RAs have pleiotropic effects on lowering plasma glucose, inducing weight loss, and modulating immune functions.

Patients with Type 2 diabetes who were prescribed drugs known as glucagon-like peptide-1, or GLP-1, developed fewer obesity-related cancers than patients who were treated with insulin, according to a study published Friday in JAMA Network Open.

The group of drugs the study looked at includes Wegovy/Ozempic(semaglutide), a diabetes treatment, and Zepound(Tirzepatide).

One study is based on electronic health records for more than 1.6 million patients with Type 2 diabetes for 15 years ending in November 2018. Since that was less than a year after Ozempic was introduced in the U.S. Most of the GLP-1 patients in the study would have been taking first-generation medicines, such as Novo’s Victoza, said Lindsey Wang, a student in the BS-MD program at Case Western Reserve University, who did the data analysis in one study.

Because overweight/obesity is a major risk factor for colorectal cancer (CRC), it is also hypothesized that GLP-1RAs are associated with a decreased risk for CRC in patients with T2D compared with non–GLP–1RA antidiabetics.
In the cohort study, GLP-1RAs were associated with reduced CRC risk in drug-naive patients with T2D with and without obesity/overweight, with more profound effects in patients with obesity/overweight, suggesting a potential protective effect against CRC partially mediated by weight loss and other mechanisms not related to weight loss

Still, these studies are the latest evidence to suggest that widely popular diabetes and weight-loss shots may have a role in cancer prevention.

Muller,M and Kresge,N (2024, July 7). Study: Drugs like Ozempic linked to lower cancer risk.Bloomberg.

Wang, L., Wang, W., Kaelber, D. C., Xu, R., & Berger, N. A. (2024). GLP-1 receptor agonists and colorectal cancer risk in drug-naive patients with type 2 diabetes, with and without overweight/obesity. JAMA oncology, 10(2), 256-258.

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