This drug can protect liver health in people with diabetes

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In a groundbreaking study from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, published in the journal Gut, researchers have discovered that drugs typically used to treat type 2 diabetes, like Ozempic and other GLP1 agonists, might also reduce the risk of severe liver problems.

This finding could be a significant stride in healthcare, especially for those with chronic liver disease and type 2 diabetes.

GLP1 agonists, including the well-known drug Ozempic, are primarily used to lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

Interestingly, these drugs also reduce appetite, which has led to their growing use in treating obesity and aiding in weight loss. But their benefits might extend beyond just managing diabetes and weight.

Early clinical trials hinted that GLP1 agonists might also lessen the risk of liver damage. This prompted the Karolinska Institutet team to conduct a comprehensive study.

They gathered data on all individuals in Sweden who had chronic liver disease along with type 2 diabetes. By comparing those who were treated with GLP1 agonists to those who weren’t, they aimed to understand the drug’s impact on liver health.

Their findings were promising. People who took GLP1 agonists for a prolonged period were less likely to develop serious liver conditions like cirrhosis and liver cancer later on.

This suggests that GLP1 agonists could be a crucial tool in preventing severe liver diseases in people with coexisting chronic liver disease and type 2 diabetes.

Axel Wester, the study’s first author and an assistant professor at Karolinska Institutet, highlighted the significance of this discovery.

Fatty liver disease affects a notable portion of the population in Sweden, with many sufferers also having type 2 diabetes. Until now, there haven’t been any approved drugs to reduce the risk of progressing to severe liver disease.

However, it’s important to note that many study participants stopped taking GLP1 agonists, which diminished the protective effect. Those who consistently took the medication over a decade were 50% less likely to develop severe liver conditions.

While these findings are encouraging, they need further confirmation through clinical trials, which could take many years. As such, the researchers are utilizing existing registry data to gauge the drugs’ effects before the completion of these trials.

They also acknowledge limitations in their method, like the inability to account for factors not included in the data, such as detailed blood tests describing the severity of liver disease.

Looking ahead, the researchers plan to investigate the effects of GLP1 agonists using a new database called HERALD, which includes blood samples from patients in Region Stockholm.

If they find similar results in this database, it would further support the idea that GLP1 agonists can help prevent serious liver diseases.

This study, mainly funded by Region Stockholm (CIMED), the Swedish Research Council, and the Swedish Cancer Society, opens a new avenue in the treatment of liver diseases, particularly for those battling diabetes.

Although the research team has received funding from various pharmaceutical companies, no industry-supported funding was involved in this specific study. This research offers a glimmer of hope for improving the health and quality of life for those at risk of severe liver conditions.

If you care about diabetes, please read studies about Vitamin D and type 2 diabetes, and to people with diabetes, some fruits are better than others.

For more information about diabetes, please see recent studies that low calorie diets may help reverse diabetes, and 5 vitamins that may prevent complication in diabetes.

The research findings can be found in Gut.

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