Ozempic not tied to pancreatic cancer risk, study suggests

Ozempic and other glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists are not linked to a higher risk of pancreatic cancer compared to insulin, according to a recent study

GLP-1s approved for Type 2 diabetes, including Ozempic, Trulicity and Rybelsus, have faced regulatory scrutiny for a range of side effects such as hair loss, aspiration and suicidal thoughts. A potential connection between GLP-1s and pancreatic cancer, though, was suggested to be unfounded in an Israel-based study of more than 500,000 adult patients.

Between 2009 — when GLP-1s became available in Israel — and 2017, the hazard risk for developing pancreatic cancer was similar among diabetes patients who took insulin compared to GLP-1 users. The risk rate for GLP-1s was 0.52, and insulin's risk rate was 0.75, according to the study. 

About 33,000 patients took a GLP-1 and 106,000 used basal insulin. Of the 543,595 patient records part of the study, 1,665, or 0.31%, of the records indicated a pancreatic cancer diagnosis. 

The researchers concluded the safety risk was not supported, but said monitoring for pancreatic cancer risk beyond seven years is still required.

The results were published Jan. 4 in JAMA.

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