Wegovy, a brand name for the medicine semaglutide, is utilized for weight management in adults who are obese or overweight with weight-related conditions. As with any medication, it’s essential to understand the potential side effects and risks. One of the concerns some people have is whether Wegovy can cause cancer.

Understanding Semaglutide and Its Uses

Semaglutide is a medication that belongs to a group of drugs called GLP-1 receptor agonists. These drugs mimic a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels and appetite. Originally developed to treat and manage type 2 diabetes, semaglutide has also been found effective for weight loss, leading to its approval under Wegovy.

Can Wegovy Cause Cancer?

In studies conducted on rodents, high doses of semaglutide were associated with an increased risk of thyroid C-cell tumors. This finding sparked concerns about the potential for similar effects in humans. However, it’s critical to note that animal studies do not always predict human outcomes accurately.

In clinical trials, Wegovy has not shown a significant increase in cancer risk. Nevertheless, these studies are ongoing, and researchers continue to monitor for any long-term effects, including cancer.

Wegovy: Thyroid Cancer

One specific type of cancer that has been a focus of concern is thyroid cancer. The connection between Wegovy and thyroid cancer comes from the animal studies mentioned earlier. Based on these findings, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has included a warning about the potential risk of thyroid C-cell tumors. However, there has been no definitive evidence of an increased chance of thyroid cancer in humans taking Wegovy.

Wegovy Risks

When considering any medication, weighing the benefits against the potential risks is essential. Common side effects of Wegovy include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation

More severe but less common adverse effects can include pancreatitis, gallbladder problems, and kidney issues.

Semaglutide Cancer Risk

Given the potential but unconfirmed risk, healthcare providers typically monitor patients taking Wegovy for any unusual symptoms or signs that could indicate a problem. Patients must communicate concerns with their healthcare provider and undergo regular check-ups.

How Does Weight Loss Affect Cancer Risk?

We know obesity — and even high body fat — puts people at greater risk for multiple forms of cancer. Getting a healthier body composition for many people can be challenging, and these medications can help jump-start the effort.

By reducing food cravings, these drugs can lower the intake of highly processed food, which is particularly bad for overall health, including cancer risk. There is also evidence to suggest that cravings for alcohol are lowered.


People who want to prevent cancer in the first place, if they are obese or significantly overweight, may need to take Wegovy. People who have been on cancer treatment for quite a while or are looking to reduce the chance of recurrence after finishing treatment by reducing their body weight may consider this medication. 

So, can Wegovy cause cancer? While animal studies have raised concerns, human studies have not shown a significant risk. Patients are strongly advised to discuss the benefits and risks of Wegovy with their healthcare provider to make an informed decision. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Should I be concerned about taking Wegovy if I have a family history of cancer?

It’s important to discuss your family history and any challenges with your healthcare provider, who can aid you in weighing the benefits and risks based on your medical history.

How is Wegovy different from other weight loss medications?

Wegovy contains semaglutide, a GLP-1 receptor agonist, which mimics a hormone regulating appetite and blood sugar levels. Other weight loss medications may work through different mechanisms.

What should I do if I experience unusual symptoms while taking Wegovy?

Contact your healthcare provider right away if you encounter any unusual symptoms or side effects. Regular monitoring and communication with your provider are essential.

Can semaglutide (the active ingredient in Wegovy) cause cancer? 

Current evidence does not definitively show that semaglutide causes cancer in humans, although animal studies have raised concerns that are still being investigated.

What precautions should I take while using Wegovy?

Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions, attend regular check-ups, and report any side effects or unusual symptoms. Discuss any personal or family history of thyroid cancer or other cancers with your provider.