Weight-Loss Injections Show Promise in Reducing Cancer Risk

semaglutide reduces cancer rate

A major study suggests that popular weight-loss medications Wegovy and Ozempic, originally developed for diabetes, may also offer significant protection against several common cancers.

The research, presented at the American Society for Clinical Oncology conference, found that obese patients taking these weekly injections were nearly 20% less likely to develop cancers like breast, bowel, pancreatic, and ovarian varieties.

Interestingly, the study also showed a 50% reduction in the death rate among obese patients taking the semaglutide injections over a 15-year period, compared to those not receiving them. Experts believe this benefit stems from the drugs’ ability to target obesity-related cancers, such as those of the thyroid, kidney, and liver.

This is significant because obesity is considered the second leading cause of cancer in the UK, after smoking, and is responsible for roughly 5% of new cases annually.

The study adds to the growing body of evidence highlighting the wider health benefits of GLP-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1a), the class of drugs to which Wegovy and Ozempic belong. These medications go beyond just promoting weight loss.

Previous research has shown that semaglutide, the active ingredient in both drugs, can also reduce the risk of heart and kidney failure.

Weight Loss and Reduced Cancer Risk

The study involved tracking the health of over 270 obese patients who received GLP-1a medications for 15 years. Their outcomes were compared with two other groups: around 400 patients who underwent weight-loss surgery and 20,000 obese individuals who received no treatment.

While the medication group didn’t achieve the same level of weight loss as the surgery group, both sets of patients showed a similar decrease (around 19%) in the development of obesity-related cancers compared to the control group.

This suggests that weight reduction appears to be a key factor in the observed cancer risk reduction. Dr. Cindy Lin, a sports medicine expert, commented that weight loss seems to be a major driver in the lowered cancer cases observed in the study.

Beyond Weight Loss

The popularity of these medications has soared in recent years, not just for their weight-loss benefits but also due to celebrity endorsements from figures like Elon Musk and Boris Johnson. Research indicates that patients taking semaglutide can lose an average of 20% of their body weight.

The study also acknowledges the emergence of tirzepatide, an even more potent GLP-1a medication that recently became available.

Overall Significance

This research highlights the potential of GLP-1a medications in lowering the risk of cancer development, particularly among obese individuals. While further investigation is needed, these findings suggest a promising new avenue in the fight against cancer.