This content was reviewed and approved for its accuracy on 12/08/2021 by Professor Frank Joseph

Photograph of Professor Frank Joseph, weight loss expert for myBMI

Are There Any Links Between Liraglutide and Thyroid Cancer? 

 

One of the commonly asked questions about Liraglutide (also known as Victoza or Saxenda) is whether or not it can cause thyroid cancer.

 

This is most likely because of the fact that during animal studies, rats that were given Liraglutide experienced slightly higher rates of thyroid cancer. 

 

However – this risk to animal subjects doesn’t necessarily translate to humans.

 

In this article, we explain whether or not Liraglutide could cause thyroid cancer.

 

We also let you know what you can do if you’re concerned. 

 

 

One study looked specifically at whether or not GLP-1 therapies can increase the risk of cancer.

 

This time, the risk in humans was the focus, rather than rodents.

 

The results from the study concluded that there wasn’t enough evidence, either way, to suggest whether or not Liraglutide could cause cancer.

 

The researchers also added that the risk shouldn’t be seriously considered when making decisions on diabetes treatments.  

 

The patient information leaflet for Saxenda does ask those with thyroid issues to speak to their GP before taking Liraglutide.

 

Many people with thyroid issues can safely take Liraglutide under the supervision of their doctor.

 

This is to make sure that any pre-existing thyroid problems don’t get worse with your treatment. 

 

Although the general consensus at the moment is that there isn’t enough evidence to support an increased risk of cancer, we would still recommend that you speak to your doctor about any concerns.

 

Most thyroid issues can be detected with a simple blood test.  

 

 

Although there may be a link between rats, Liraglutide and thyroid cancer, it’s important to remember that humans are a different species, this means that it might not affect us in the same way.

 

The other important thing to know is that the dose they gave to these rats was around 8 times higher than what humans would receive. 

 

However, because of the results of this study, human participants were then tested during the clinical trials for their calcitonin levels.

 

Throughout the two-year study, the results showed no difference in calcitonin levels for those taking Liraglutide, compared to other diabetes treatments

 

This means that there was no evidence of Liraglutide being any more dangerous when it comes to thyroid cancer than other diabetic medicines. 

 

Liraglutide is still a relatively new drug, it’s only been available to people in the UK since 2009.

 

This means that there isn’t a lot of long-term data available when it comes to cancer links. 

 

However, this will likely be looked into over the years.

 

As it stands at the moment, there is not enough evidence to suggest that Liraglutide can cause thyroid cancer in humans.  

 

Make sure to tell your prescriber during your consultation if you have thyroid issues or not.

 

This way, they can make an informed decision on your treatment.

Here's some more content we think you will like

It’s important to know the side effects of Saxenda before you start taking it.

 

Some side effects are much more common than others, and knowing which to look out for is half the battle.

Some people start losing their hair whilst taking Saxenda, and naturally wonder whether the two are related.

 

We explain why you might start losing hair, and why it usually isn’t because of the medication itself.

Luckily, there’s no evidence to say that Saxenda can cause blood clots.

 

However, there are various risk factors that you may already have if you’re taking Saxenda.

We provide you with a dosing calendar for Saxenda so that you can visualise your schedule.

 

Making sure that you’re getting the right dosage is so important for your health and safety.