Diabetes and Weight-Loss Medications May Reduce Colon Cancer Risks, New Study Suggests

Recent research from Case Western Reserve School of Medicine in Cleveland hints at potential benefits beyond diabetes management and weight loss for widely used medications like Ozempic, Wegovy, Mounjaro, and Zepbound. These drugs, falling under the category of glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 RAs), could also lower the risk of colon cancer, according to the study.

The study, published in JAMA Oncology on December 7, indicates a notable association between GLP-1 RAs and reduced odds of colon cancer development compared to other diabetes medications like metformin or insulin. Professor Rong Xu, co-lead author of the study, expressed, “To our knowledge, this is the first indication this popular weight-loss and anti-diabetic class of drugs reduces the incidence of colorectal cancer, relative to other anti-diabetic agents.”

GLP-1 RAs, administered through injections, encompass medications such as semaglutide (Ozempic and Wegovy), tirzepatide (Mounjaro and Zepbound), and other diabetes drugs like dulaglutide (Trulicity), liraglutide (Saxenda), and exenatide (Byetta).

Analyzing data from 1.2 million Americans with diabetes, whose medical records spanned from 2005 to 2019, the study found that individuals treated with GLP-1 RAs had a 44% lower likelihood of developing colon cancer compared to those using insulin. When compared to metformin users, GLP-1 RA recipients exhibited a 25% reduction in colon cancer risk.

The results remained consistent irrespective of patients’ weight, challenging conditions, overweight, or obesity. Dr. Nathan Berger, co-lead author and professor of experimental medicine at Case Western, emphasized the significance of the findings, stating, “Our results clearly demonstrate that GLP-1 RAs are significantly more effective than popular anti-diabetic drugs, such as metformin or insulin, at preventing the development of CRC [colorectal cancer].”

Given that colorectal cancers are the third most common cancer in the United States, with over 150,000 new cases annually, and the second-leading cancer-related cause of death, these findings suggest potential groundbreaking implications for individuals managing diabetes and seeking to mitigate colon cancer risks.

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