Weight Loss Drugs Such as Wegovy and Ozempic May Help Reduce Colorectal Cancer Risk

A class of type 2 diabetes medications that includes weight loss drugs such as Wegovy and Ozempic might also help prevent colorectal cancer, according to new study published in the journal JAMA Oncology.

Researchers report that these drugs, called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists (GLP-1 RAs), help manage diabetes and spur weight loss by lowering blood sugar, increasing insulin production, and slowing stomach emptying.

Because both obesity and diabetes are risk factors for colorectal cancer researchers from Case Western Reserve University in Ohio were keen to see if these drugs were able to reduce cancer risk.

The researchers reported that study participants treated with GLP-1 RAs had a 44% lower risk of colorectal cancer compared to other people with type 2 diabetes who were treated with insulin throughout a 15-year period of study data.

In addition, the people treated with GLP-1 RAs also had a 25% lower risk of colorectal cancer than those treated with the drug metformin.

Whether you take medication or not, experts say the best way to reduce your colorectal cancer risk is to avoid type 2 diabetes and obesity as well as adopt a healthy diet and get regular medical check-ups.

It’s estimated that about two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or have obesity. There are about 150,000 new cases of colorectal cancer yearly as well as more than 52,000 deaths, according to the American Cancer Society.

“Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer worldwide and in the U.S., we are seeing how rates are rising among people younger than 50,” said Dr. Misagh Karimi, a medical oncologist specializing in gastrointestinal cancers at City of Hope Orange County Lennar Foundation Cancer Center in California.

“To lower the risk of colorectal cancer, it’s important to eat a nutritious diet with fruits and vegetables, stay physically active, limit the consumption of alcohol, and not smoke tobacco,” “Getting screened for colorectal cancer as your physician recommends is key as early detection can make all the difference.” said Dr. Karimi. 


Rong Xu, PhD, Center for Artificial Intelligence in Drug Discovery, and Nathan A. Berger, MD, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, 10900 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, OH 44106. GLP-1 Receptor Agonists and Colorectal Cancer Risk in Drug-Naive Patients With Type 2 Diabetes, With and Without Overweight/Obesity. Published Online: December 7, 2023. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2023.5573 

JAMA Oncology (December, 2023). Weight loss drugs such as Wegovy and Ozempic may help reduce colorectal cancer risk. MedicalNewsToday. Retrieved December 8, 2023 from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/weight-loss-drugs-such-as-wegovy-and-ozempic-may-help-reduce-colorectal-cancer-risk 

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