Weight loss jabs can help people living with cancer combat the disease, academics have said.

Wegovy and Ozempic has been found to produce cancer-fighting cells – protecting the body from tumours.

Scientists from Ireland’s Maynooth University observed 20 people living with obesity who were using semaglutide – the generic version of Wegovy and Ozempic.

They looked at whether or not weight loss injections restored the function of natural killer (NK) immune cells, which can help combat cancer.

The research team found that NK cell function improved after six months of GLP-1 treatment – helping the body to destroy cancerous cells.

“The treatment also boosts the cellular metabolism of NK cells from people with obesity,” said the authors.

People living with obesity and one weight-related comorbidity can now be prescribed Wegovy from the NHS.

Top author Dr Andrew Hogan said: “While these findings will understandably be welcomed by those living with obesity and looking for safe and effective treatments, given the recent spike in popularity related to the benefits of the GLP-1 treatment with global and high-profile celebrities commenting on its success, global demand has increased and resulted in a worldwide shortage of the drug.

“I hope this is something that is brought under control to ensure as many people as possible living with obesity can start their own treatment of this beneficial drug.”

Professor Donal O’Shea, national lead for obesity at the Health Service Executive, which oversees the running of public health services in Ireland, added: “We are finally reaching the point where medical treatments for the disease of obesity are being shown to prevent the complications of having obesity.

“The current findings represent very positive news for people living with obesity on GLP-1 therapy and suggest the benefits of this family of treatments may extend to a reduction in cancer risk.”

The study has been published in the journal Obesity.

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