Could diabetes drug Ozempic lower cancer risk? Here's what a study finds

The researchers found that the patients who received a certain class of diabetes medications had a significantly lower risk of developing 10 out of 13 cancers studied

By AFP

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File Photo. Image used for illustrative purposes
File Photo. Image used for illustrative purposes

Published: Sat 6 Jul 2024, 8:30 AM

A class of diabetes medications, which include the drug Ozempic, are associated with a reduced risk of certain obesity-related cancers, according to a study released Friday.

The study, in the journal JAMA, which is published by the American Medical Association, compared patients with Type 2 diabetes who were treated with insulin versus patients who were given a class of drug known as GLP-1 agonists, like Ozempic, between 2005 and 2018.


The researchers found that the patients who received GLP-1 agonists had a significantly lower risk of developing 10 out of 13 cancers studied, including kidney, pancreatic, esophageal, ovarian, liver and colorectal cancer.

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Among the cancers which saw no significant change in risk were thyroid cancer and breast cancer in post-menopausal women.

"Obesity is well known to be associated with at least 13 cancer types," study author Rong Xu said in an email to AFP.

"Our study provides evidence that GLP-1RAs hold promise in breaking the link between obesity and cancer," Xu said.

Among the drugs studied were semaglutide – commercially sold as Ozempic – as well as liraglutide and others. Ozempic was approved in the United States in 2017.

GLP-1 agonists have been around for about 20 years, but a new generation of these drugs, among them Ozempic, has been popularized for their more significant weight loss effects.

Xu suggested that the protective benefits demonstrated in the study may encourage doctors to prescribe GLP-1 treatments for diabetes patients instead of other medicines like insulin.

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