Editorials

Glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists and risk of breast cancer

BMJ 2016; 355 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i5519 (Published 20 October 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;355:i5519
  1. Shari D Bolen, associate professor of medicine, epidemiology, and biostatistics13,
  2. Nisa M Maruthur, assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology46
  1. 1Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, MetroHealth System/Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, USA
  2. 2Center for Healthcare Research and Policy, Case Western Reserve University at MetroHealth Medical Center, 2500 MetroHealth Drive, Rammelkamp Building, Room 234A, Cleveland, OH 44109, USA
  3. 3Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, USA
  4. 4Division of General Internal Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA
  5. 5Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA
  6. 6Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology, and Clinical Research, Baltimore, MD, USA
  1. sdb73{at}case.edu

Concern remains, and should feature in discussions with patients

Although many providers and some patients know about the potential risks of pancreatic or thyroid cancer with use of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists,1 2 3 risk of breast cancer has also recently arisen as a potential risk with these drugs. The US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and European Medicines Agency separately conducted pooled analyses of four weight management trials that investigated the use of 3.0 mg liraglutide (a type of GLP-1 receptor agonist).4 5 In these pooled analyses, 12 (0.29%) breast cancer events were reported in the liraglutide arms versus two (0.08%) events in the placebo arms.

Given the rare occurrence of these events, it was unclear whether this difference was due to chance alone or a true increase in breast cancer risk. The LEADER trial (liraglutide effect and action in diabetes: evaluation of cardiovascular outcome results) compared liraglutide at a lower dose of …

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