Diabetes medication may also lower colorectal cancer risk – Study suggests

Diabetes medication may also lower colorectal cancer risk – Researchers at Case Western Reserve University have conducted a groundbreaking study suggesting that a class of medications used to treat type 2 diabetes, glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 RAs), may also significantly reduce the risk of colorectal cancer (CRC).

The findings, published today in the journal JAMA Oncology, support the need for clinical trials to determine if these medications could be used to prevent one of the leading causes of cancer death. Additionally, the study suggests potential for GLP-1 RAs to prevent other types of cancer associated with obesity and diabetes.

Key Points:

  • GLP-1 RAs were found to be significantly more effective than other popular anti-diabetic drugs, such as Metformin or insulin, at preventing the development of CRC.
  • The protective effect of GLP-1 RAs was observed in patients both with and without overweight/obesity, highlighting their potential benefits for a broader population.
  • This study is the first to suggest that GLP-1 RAs reduce the risk of CRC compared to other anti-diabetic agents.
  • Further research is necessary to confirm these findings and determine the optimal treatment strategies for reducing CRC risk.

The study, published in JAMA Oncology, compared the effects of GLP-1 RAs with other diabetes medications like Metformin and insulin. The results were promising:

  • 44% reduction in CRC risk: Patients treated with GLP-1 RAs had a 44% lower chance of developing colorectal cancer compared to those on insulin.
  • 25% reduction in CRC risk: Compared to Metformin, GLP-1 RAs also showed a 25% decrease in CRC risk.
  • Significant impact across weight groups: Importantly, the protective effect of GLP-1 RAs was observed in patients with and without overweight/obesity.

These findings are incredibly significant, as colorectal cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer in both men and women, with over 150,000 new cases diagnosed annually.

Obesity and CRC Risk:

Being overweight or obese and having diabetes are major risk factors for both the development and progression of CRC. The study emphasizes the importance of addressing these risk factors through various strategies, including the potential use of GLP-1 RAs.

Study Methodology and Results:

The researchers conducted a large-scale population-based study using a national database of over 100 million electronic health records. They compared the incidence of CRC among individuals treated with GLP-1 RAs to those treated with other anti-diabetic drugs, controlling for various demographic and health factors.

The study found that patients treated with GLP-1 RAs had a significantly lower risk of developing CRC compared to those treated with other medications. This effect was observed both in patients with and without overweight/obesity.


This study offers promising evidence for the potential of GLP-1 RAs in reducing CRC risk. Further research is needed to confirm these findings and determine how best to incorporate these medications into preventive strategies. If confirmed, this could have a significant impact on public health by reducing the burden of CRC, especially among individuals with diabetes or at risk of developing it. Source

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