Could Blockbuster Weight Loss Drugs Also Be Used to Treat Heart Disease, Alzheimer’s, and Cancer?

It’s hard to imagine GLP-1 agonists making more of an impact — the drugs have already transformed the way type 2 diabetes and obesity are treated. But many experts believe that the drugs hold even more promise in areas that go well beyond blood sugar control and weight management.

Over 1,000 clinical trials involving GLP-1s are currently being conducted all around the world — not just in treating diabetes and obesity, but for conditions such heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and even cancer.

Many Health Problems Spring From Inflammation and How the Body Processes Insulin

Although it isn’t unusual for a drug to treat more than one disease state, the wide range of conditions that are being investigated with GLP-1 is. What is it that makes the drug so promising in multiple systems throughout the body?

“I believe that these medications have such broad effects because a lot of health problems begin with disruptions in insulin resistance, abnormalities in how the body handles glucose, and inflammation, which can all be driven by our environments and excess weight gain,” says Jamy Ard, MD, a professor of epidemiology and prevention at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston Salem, North Carolina, and a clinical researcher focused on studying strategies to treat obesity and Type 2 diabetes in adults.

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