Reported in The Times today a recent research reveals that weight loss injections like Ozempic and Wegovy can reduce cancer risk by 19%, providing a promising tool in cancer prevention. GLP-1 agonists were found to prevent multiple cancers, including breast and bowel cancer, in a study involving 34,000 obese adults. This reduction is partly due to weight loss, but the drugs also act through non-weight loss pathways, such as reducing inflammation and directly affecting cancer cells.

Being over-weight is the second biggest cause of cancer in the UK, Cancer Research UK’s chief clinician, Professor Charles Swanton, said: “The link between obesity and multiple cancers is proven. While GLP-1 receptor agonists are effective drugs to manage weight loss, it’s still early days in our understanding of the drugs and whether they can reduce people’s risk of cancer.

Studies in mice suggest these drugs can cause cancer cell death and inhibit their multiplication. Dr. Mitchell Lazar from the University of Pennsylvania noted that the medical treatment of obesity has enormous potential to prevent new cancers and reduce the severity of existing tumours.

Further research supports these findings. A Harvard University study of 1,448 breast cancer patients with type 2 diabetes found that those on GLP-1 drugs were 33% less likely to die from any cause over five years. Another study at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center showed a 5% average weight loss in one year among breast cancer patients on GLP-1 drugs, potentially improving survival rates.

Dr. Sherry Shen and Dr. Neil Iyengar from Memorial Sloan Kettering highlighted the promise of these drugs in cancer treatment. They advocate for clinical trials to confirm these benefits and hypothesise that GLP-1 drugs could reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence and metastasis. Weight loss drugs might also help patients adhere to cancer treatments by mitigating weight gain, a common side effect of hormone therapies.

Semaglutide, another GLP-1 drug, has shown potential in reducing heart disease deaths by 20% and treating kidney disease. Although no clinical trials have yet tested these drugs in cancer patients, the link between obesity and multiple cancers is well established. Professor Charles Swanton of Cancer Research UK stressed the need for well-designed trials to clarify the safety and efficacy of weight loss drugs in lowering cancer risk.

These findings suggest that GLP-1 receptor agonists could play a significant role in managing obesity and preventing cancer, pending further clinical validation.

Affected by Delayed or Missed Cancer Diagnosis?

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