Porto Alegre, Brazil—Despite past studies suggesting a link between certain type 2 diabetes drugs and increased risk for breast cancer, a new analysis found no relationship.

A presentation at ENDO 2021, the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting, determined that glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 RAs), used to treat diabetes and obesity, do not appear to be associated with a higher likelihood of breast cancer development.

“GLP-1 RAs 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,” asserted lead researcher Giovana Fagundes Piccoli, MD, of the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil.

GLP-1 RAs are used to treat obesity and type 2 diabetes and in reducing heart disease. Included in the class are albiglutide (Tanzeum); dulaglutide (Trulicity); exenatide (Byetta); extended-release exenatide (Bydureon); liraglutide (Victoza, Saxenda); lixisenatide (Adlyxin); and semaglutide (Ozempic, Rybelsus), according to the report.

In clinical trials of liraglutide, participants treated with the GLP-1 RA instead of a placebo had a higher number of breast cancers. The new study was designed to assess whether patients treated with GLP-1 RAs had a higher risk of breast cancer or benign neoplasms.

Researchers reviewed 52 randomized, controlled trials that compared GLP-1 RAs with non-GLP-1 RAs—either other diabetes or weight-loss drugs or placebos—in adults who were overweight or obese or had prediabetes or diabetes. The studies, which included more than 90,000 participants, had a minimum follow-up period of 24 weeks and reported at least one event of breast cancer or benign breast neoplasm.

Included in the analysis were 52 trials, of which 50 reported breast cancer events and 11 reported benign breast neoplasms; researchers rated overall methodological quality as high.

Results indicate that, among 48,267 subjects treated with GLP-1RAs, 130 developed breast cancer compared with 107 of 40,755 controls (relative risk [RR], 0.98; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.76-1.26).

No differences were uncovered by subset analyses based on follow-up, participant/investigator blinding, and type of GLP-1RA. The analysts also determined that the risk of benign breast neoplasms did not differ between groups (RR, 0.99; 95% CI, 0.48- 2.01).

“Treatment with GLP-1RAs for obesity and diabetes does not increase the risk of breast neoplasms,” the authors concluded.

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