Weight loss shots could help prevent 10 types of cancer, new research suggests

By Emily Stearn, Health Reporter for Mailonline

16:00 05 Jul 2024, updated 16:18 05 Jul 2024

Research suggests breakthrough diet shots could help prevent up to 10 types of cancer.

Wegovy, Ozempic and other fat-melting injections have ushered in a new era in the fight against obesity, but have also been linked to other health benefits, such as lowering the risk of heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease.

Now experts have discovered that the drugs may also reduce the risk of a number of weight-related cancers, including difficult-to-diagnose forms such as pancreatic, kidney and ovarian cancers.

According to US scientists who conducted the study, the findings show the “potential benefits” of the drugs in people at higher risk of these diseases.

However, they cautioned that further research is needed to confirm their findings.

Wegovy, Ozempic and other fat-melting injections have ushered in a new era in the fight against obesity. Now, experts have discovered that the drugs may have other medical benefits, namely reducing the risk of pancreatic, kidney and even ovarian cancer.

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The researchers didn’t ask why the drugs, which belong to a class of medications called GLP-1 agonists, might reduce a patient’s risk of cancer.

As part of the study, researchers from Case Western Reserve University in Ohio followed more than 1.6 million patients with type 2 diabetes, with an average age of 60, between 2005 and 2018.

Over a 15-year follow-up, they compared the risk of cancer in patients taking GLP-1 agonists with that of patients taking insulin. They also compared another group of GLP-1 with a group taking metformin, another diabetes drug.

The 13 cancers studied, all of which were linked to obesity, were esophageal, breast, colorectal, uterine, gallbladder, and stomach cancer.

Other cancers studied included kidney, ovarian, pancreatic and thyroid cancer, as well as hepatocellular carcinoma, meningioma and multiple myeloma.

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Scientists wrote in the journal JAMA Network Open: ‘Compared with insulins, GLP-1s were associated with a significantly lower risk of 10 of 13 obesity-related cancers.’

People who used insulin were twice as likely to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, colorectal cancer, gallbladder cancer and meningioma cancer, they added.

The other six conditions were esophageal, uterine, gastric, renal, ovarian, and multiple myeloma.

The largest reduction was seen in gallbladder cancer: patients taking GLP-1 agonists were 65 percent less likely to develop the disease than insulin patients.

Other large declines were seen in pancreatic cancer (59 percent), ovarian cancer (48 percent) and colorectal cancer (46 percent).

However, the results for thyroid cancer showed ‘no statistically different risk’.

Research in mice and rats has shown that injections such as Ozempic and Wegovy, which work by mimicking hormones, can increase the risk of medullary thyroid cancer (MTC).

“Our study findings, together with previous reports of insulins promoting cancer growth, suggest that GLP-1s may be linked to an increased risk of thyroid cancer,” the scientists said.

The risk was also lower for seven types of cancer in those taking GLP-1 agonists compared with metformin.

Wegovy and Ozempic work by stimulating the body to produce a hormone called GLP-1 which is naturally released from the gut after meals

Examples of these are the pancreas, ovaries, stomach and gallbladder.

In contrast, renal cancer showed an increased risk with GLP-1 treatment compared with metformin, but a decrease compared with insulin.

Also, no ‘signs of increased risk’ of breast cancer were found with GLP-1 agonists compared with those treated with insulin or metformin.

However, the researchers acknowledged that the study had “several limitations,” including not accounting for variables such as patients’ weight loss, which could have influenced their obesity-related cancer risk.

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But they added: ‘Given that type 2 diabetes and overweight or obesity negatively impact patients during their cancer therapy, GLP-1s should be evaluated for the management of these comorbidities during cancer therapy and for secondary prevention to delay cancer recurrence.’

Research has shown that users can lose an average of up to 15.3 kg in 68 weeks using the injections.

They trick the brain into thinking it is full, which reduces appetite and helps people lose weight.

Semaglutide, better known as Ozempic, has been available on the NHS since 2019 and in the US for people with type 2 diabetes since 2017. manage blood sugar levels.

In 2022, another semaglutide drug was also approved for weight loss in the UK, and in 2021 in the US under the brand name Wegovy.

Tirzepatide, marketed under the brand name Mounjaro, was given the green light in the UK earlier this year and in the US in 2022 for the same reason.

The groundbreaking hormone injections have been praised by celebrities including Elon Musk and Jeremy Clarkson.

Ministers in Britain plan to distribute the drug to millions of obese Britons to help reduce the country’s skyrocketing benefits bill. Children could eventually get the jabs too.

In the US, too, prescriptions for Ozempic and similar weight-loss drugs have skyrocketed. An estimated 39 million people, or 12 percent of the population, have used these drugs.

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Like all medicines, semaglutide can cause side effects that vary in frequency and severity. Reported problems include nausea, constipation, diarrhea, fatigue, stomach pain, headache, and dizziness.

Some patients have also reported strange symptoms, such as hair loss.

The latest NHS data shows that 26 per cent of adults in England are obese, and a further 38 per cent are overweight but not obese. In the US, an estimated 41.9 per cent of the adult population are obese.

While the hormone-mimicking injections are designed to help overweight patients become healthier, there are also growing concerns about the number of normal-weight and underweight patients taking these injections for cosmetic reasons.

Some even required emergency care after getting vaccinated to get “beach body ready.”

Young women in particular are said to be purchasing the drug from online pharmacies, which offer the drug for amounts between £150 and £200 ($200-$250) per month, after providing false information about their appearance and health.

In some cases, it is thought that people who take the vaccinations without a medical reason do so as a result of their eating disorder.

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