June 23, 2024

Weight-loss drugs offer a new weapon in the global fight against cancer, with “enormous potential” to prevent new cases and shrink tumors, doctors said, as research showed the jabs cut the risk of developing the disease by a fifth can reduce

Blockbuster injections like Wegovy have revolutionized the treatment of obesity, and have recently been approved for use in other areas of medicine, including reducing the risk of heart attacks, strokes and cardiovascular-related deaths.

Now experts say they increasingly believe that weight loss drugs can play a major role in the prevention and treatment of cancer, the second leading cause of death worldwide.

A study presented at the world’s largest cancer conference found that patients using the drugs were 19% less likely to develop 13 obesity-related cancers, including ovarian, liver, colorectal, pancreatic, bowel and breast cancer.

The research involving 34,000 people, led by Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, also found that patients were half as likely to die in 15 years compared to patients who did not take the samples, also known as GLP-1 receptor agonists (RA).

The study’s co-authors, Dr. Cindy Lin and Dr. Benjamin Liu, said: “Our findings are significant in that they may change the paradigm of obesity management by suggesting that early intervention with GLP-1 RAs may delay or prevent obesity-related cancer development .” There may be “multiple” ways in which the drugs reduce the risk of cancer — not just by helping people lose weight, they added.

A second study published at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting suggested that weight-loss drugs could reduce the risk of cancer coming back in breast cancer patients – and boost their prospects for long-term survival. Researchers from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York said that the jabs could reduce the risk of cancer recurrence and could be a “new tool” against the disease.

A third paper released at ASCO and led by Yale University, also looking at breast cancer patients, suggested that taking weight loss drugs reduces the chances of the disease returning.

Speaking at ASCO in Chicago, Dr. Mitchell Lazar, director of the Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism Institute at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, said: “GLP-1-based therapies are highly effective for weight loss, and therefore one of the fundamental mechanisms by which they improve cancer outcomes is through the impressive weight loss they produce.

“Obesity is a risk factor for almost all cancers, in both men and women. The revolution in the medical treatment of obesity therefore has enormous potential to prevent new cancers, reduce the severity and growth rate of existing tumors and to develop new cancer-specific therapies to synergize.”

Dr. Jennifer Ligibel, a senior physician at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute who was not involved in the studies, said, “These are exciting, preliminary findings of an association between the use of GLP-1 RAs and cancer risk.” They added to previous work suggesting the drugs could reduce cancer risk, she added.

A study published last December shown to be associated with a 50% reduced risk of bowel cancer in people with type 2 diabetes. “Individuals with diabetes who were prescribed a GLP-1 RA had a lower risk of colorectal cancer compared to individuals who were not prescribed either of these drugs,” Ligibel said.

Dr. Julie Gralow, ASCO’s chief medical officer, said the evidence is not yet clear whether the potential benefits of weight-loss drugs in reducing cancer risk were just due to weight loss — or whether there were other, unknown factors. playing

Gralow, a world-renowned cancer expert who was named 2023 Female Oncologist of the Year, said she is absolutely certain that the stings will become a much bigger focus of cancer prevention research in the future. “The more we can do to reduce the risk factors and prevent cancer, the better,” she added.

“I do think that there are so many potential and already proven health benefits for these drugs, that it would be icing on the cake if we saw that they also reduce cancers.

“I am very hopeful about overall improvements in health from this class of drugs.”

Cancer Research UK’s chief clinician, Prof Charles Swanton, warned that it was still “early days”. There have been suggestions that the drugs may even increase the risk of certain cancers recent research on thyroid cancer and pancreatic cancer cast doubt on those concerns.

“Well-designed prospective trials with randomized data will provide more clarity about the potential and safety of weight-loss drugs to lower people’s risk of cancer,” Swanton said.

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