Some weight loss drugs may increase risk of gastrointestinal diseases: Canadian study
GLP-1 agonists were originally developed for targeting Type 2 diabetes but have become increasingly used for weight loss regimens
Some popular weight loss drugs may increase the risk of gastrointestinal diseases, according to a new Canadian study.
New research from the University of British Columbia (UBC) found that popular brands of medications known as GLP-1 agonists, including Wegovy, Ozempic, Rybelsus and Saxenda, “are associated with an increased risk of serious medical conditions including stomach paralysis, pancreatitis and bowel obstruction”, a release from UBC said.
While these risks were underscored in earlier studies for patients with diabetes, UBC said this was the first “large, population-level study to examine adverse gastrointestinal events in non-diabetic patients using the drugs specifically for weight loss”.
The findings were published in the journal JAMA.
The first author of the study was Indo-Canadian Mohit Sodhi, who said, “Given the wide use of these drugs, these adverse events, although rare, must be considered by patients thinking about using them for weight loss.”
Sodhi, a graduate of UBC’s experimental medicine programme and fourth year UBC medical student, added, “The risk calculus will differ depending on whether a patient is using these drugs for diabetes, obesity or just general weight loss. People who are otherwise healthy may be less willing to accept these potentially serious adverse events.”
GLP-1 agonists were originally developed for targeting Type 2 diabetes but have become increasingly used for weight loss regimens.
The researchers compared the effects of these drugs to bupropion-naltrexone, also used for weight loss. They found that there was 9.09 times higher risk of pancreatitis or inflammation of the pancreas, the risk for bowel obstruction was at 4.22 and for gastroparesis or stomach paralysis was at 3.67 times.
Sodhi said, “These drugs are becoming increasingly accessible, and it is concerning that, in some cases, people can simply go online and order these kind of medications when they may not have a full understanding of what could potentially happen. This goes directly against the mantra of informed consent.”