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Doctor Says Ozempic Raises Certain Health Risks by Up to 900%

Mark Hyman, MD, spoke about potential complications during an episode of The Diary Of A CEO.

Ozempic has been celebrated for producing dramatic results, but the diabetes drug prescribed off-label for weight loss has also become a hot topic for debate thanks to a wide array of side effects reported by patients. These range from inconvenient to debilitating, forcing many to stop taking the drug for good. Now, Mark Hyman, MD, co-founder and chief medical officer of Function, is chiming in on Ozempic complications, noting that the injection can spike certain health risks by up to 900 percent.

RELATED: Ozempic Patients Reveal Major Side Effect When You Stop Taking It.

During an April 11 episode of the podcast The Diary Of A CEO, Hyman shared his thoughts on Ozempic, pointing out that the treatment hasn't been available for that long. The drug, a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist (GLP-1RA), was officially approved to treat type 2 diabetes in 2017.

Hyman listed several of his concerns about the treatment, including the cost and the fact that when you discontinue use, you're likely to regain the weight you've lost—unless you "rigorously change your lifestyle."

"It's not a lifestyle change program, it doesn't help you change your behaviors or habits," Hyman told host Steven Bartlett. "It's a pharmacological straight jacket—and that can be effective if some people really need it, they need it—if some people are massively overweight and they don't want to get a gastric bypass, I think it may be OK."

But he also has an issue with the way Ozempic affects your body, including loss of muscle, which can be detrimental to your metabolism and overall health. In addition, Hyman said that experts are now seeing "serious side effects," calling Ozempic's side effect profile "scary."

"Bowel obstruction, which is not a trivial thing—essentially where your bowels stop moving and you need surgery to release them—is increased by 450 percent," he pointed out.

(In Sept. 2023, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an update to Ozempic's label to include ileus, a medical term for bowel obstruction, following patient reports of "severe" gastrointestinal issues.)

But it doesn't stop there: Risk of pancreatitis spikes even higher for patients on Ozempic, Hyman said.

"Pancreatitis, which is not a fun condition, which is where your pancreas becomes inflamed, [and] that affects your digestion, it affects your insulin, affects everything, and you can die from it," he told Bartlett. "[Your risk of that] is increased by 900 percent."

Later in the interview, Bartlett asked what aspect of Ozempic causes these side effects, questioning whether it was because people are eating less or related to the medication itself.

"It's the effect of the drug," Hyman explained. "It thickens the bowel wall—it has [an] effect on the gut, so it's working on the gut. A lot of the hormones and the metabolic functions of the gut are affected by Ozempic in ways that change its function and slow the emptying—and do a lot of things. So, eventually, it seems to cause problems for a lot of people."

Hyman also cited other symptoms, including those that affect the kidneys, adding that he anticipates more side effects coming to light over time.

RELATED: Doctor Reveals Surprising New Ozempic Side Effect: "I Noticed Something Really Odd."

In response to Hyman's comments, a spokesperson for Novo Nordisk (the maker of Ozempic) told Best Life that "patient safety is the top priority" and the company "will continue to collaborate closely with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)" to monitor the safety of all its GLP1RA drugs.

The spokesperson continued, "The known risks associated with use of these medicines are reflected in their current FDA-approved product labeling. Novo Nordisk stands behind the safety and efficacy of all of our GLP-1RA medicines when they are used as indicated and when they are taken under the care of a licensed healthcare professional."

Meanwhile, in Hyman's opinion, the real solution lies in fixing the obesity problem.

"It's not an easy fix, and it requires policy change, it requires us to rethink our agricultural system, our food processing and manufacturing system, it requires massive education … It requires us to make really wide-scale change in our society, which is going to cause significant loss for a lot of companies."

In terms of Ozempic, Hyman concluded, "Taking this drug seems great—and I think it's got benefits, but it's not just a risk-free solution."

Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research, and health agencies, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. When it comes to the medication you're taking or any other health questions you have, always consult your healthcare provider directly.

Abby Reinhard
Abby Reinhard is a Senior Editor at Best Life, covering daily news and keeping readers up to date on the latest style advice, travel destinations, and Hollywood happenings. Read more
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