Study Finds Common Drugs for Type 2 Diabetes, Obesity Do Not Increase Breast Cancer Risk

March 29, 2021
Jill Murphy, Associate Editor

The studies had a minimum follow-up period of 24 weeks and reported at least 1 event of breast cancer or benign breast neoplasm, which included 90,360 participants.

Glucagon like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 RAs), commonly used medications for type 2 diabetes (T2D) and obesity, are not associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, despite previous studies that suggested a possible link, according to a study presented at the virtual ENDO 2021 annual meeting.

“GLP-1RAs can be used as adjunct to diet and exercise in subjects with type 2 diabetes and those without type 2 diabetes and excess weight, without an increased risk of breast cancer or noncancerous masses in the breast,” said lead researcher Giovana Fagundes Piccoli, MD, of the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil, in a press release.

GLP-1 RAs have been shown to be effective in treating obesity and T2D and in reducing heart disease, with drugs such as albiglutide (Tanzeum), dulaglutide (Trulicity), exenatide (Byetta), and extended-release exenatide (Bydureon). This new study was designed to assess whether patients treated with GLP-1 RAs had a higher risk of breast cancer or benign growth in the breasts, or neoplasms, according to the study authors.

The team reviewed 52 randomized controlled trials that compared GLP-1 RAs with non-GLP-1 RAs, or other diabetes and weight-loss drugs or placebos, in adults with overweight, obesity, prediabetes, or diabetes. The studies had a minimum follow-up period of 24 weeks and reported at least 1 event of breast cancer or benign breast neoplasm, which included 90,360 participants.

The analysis found treatment with GLP-1 RAs was not associated with increased rates of breast cancer or benign or premalignant breast neoplasm compared to placebo or other diabetes or weight-loss drugs. Out of 48,267 subjects treated with GLP-1 RAs, 130 developed breast cancer compared to 107 of 40,755 controls, according to the study authors.

REFERENCE

Common drugs for type 2 diabetes and obesity do not increase breast cancer risk. Endocrine Society. Published March 20, 2021. Accessed March 24, 2021. https://www.endocrine.org/news-and-advocacy/news-room/featured-science-from-endo-2021/common-drugs-for-type-2-diabetes-and-obesity-do-not-increase-breast-cancer-risk#:~:text=Commonly%20used%20medications%20for%20type,ENDO%202021%2C%20the%20Endocrine%20Society's.