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Popular weight-loss and diabetes medications linked to lower risk of some cancers, study finds

CNN – A new study indicates that GLP-1 drugs, like Ozempic and Wegovy, may help reduce the risk of specific tumors.

Individuals who are obese or overweight are more likely to develop any of the 13 forms of cancer, and the risk rises with time and the amount of extra weight gained. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that obesity accounts for around 40% of newly diagnosed cases of cancer. According to CDC data, there were almost 170 new illnesses for every 100,000 individuals in 2021.

However, compared to those taking insulin, individuals with type 2 diabetes receiving treatment with a family of GLP-1 medications had a considerably lower chance of being diagnosed with 10 of the 13 malignancies linked to obesity, according to a study published on Friday in the journal JAMA Network Open.

Meningioma, pancreatic cancer, gallbladder cancer, and hepatocellular carcinoma—a kind of liver cancer—had a risk reduction of more than half. Additionally, it was much lower for multiple myeloma, esophageal cancer, endometrial cancer, renal cancer, colorectal cancer, and ovarian cancer.

According to the CDC, being overweight can alter the body in ways that include chronic inflammation, elevated levels of insulin, insulin-like growth factor, and sex hormones that can lead to cancer. Furthermore, GLP-1 drugs interact with insulin manufacturing systems.

According to the study authors, the new results that associate GLP-1 medication with a lower risk of certain cancers “compare favorably” with similar outcomes associated with rigorous lifestyle modification and metabolic-bariatric surgery that have been discovered in prior trials.

The study did discover, however, that GLP-1 therapy was not linked to a lower risk of postmenopausal breast cancer, which is the most prevalent kind of obesity-related breast cancer according to CDC data.

There was also no decrease in the risk of thyroid or stomach cancer. Indeed, other studies have discovered that GLP-1s may interact with the body’s production of insulin in ways that adversely affect the thyroid. The authors of the study stress that patients should be informed of any potential hazards to the thyroid that are listed on the medication’s package.

The current study also discovered that there was no difference in the probability of cancer diagnosis between individuals with type 2 diabetes receiving GLP-1s and those receiving metformin treatment. In actuality, GLP-1 users had a higher chance of receiving a kidney cancer diagnosis than metformin users did.

Researchers from the MetroHealth System and the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine examined more than a decade’s worth of type 2 diabetes patient medical information for this study.

The results offer “preliminary evidence of the potential benefit of GLP-1RAs for cancer prevention in high-risk populations and support further preclinical and clinical studies,” the study authors wrote. However, more research is required to determine how decreased cancer risk may relate to the amount of weight lost.

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