Skip to content

Weight-Loss Drugs Spike Risk of "Extremely Serious" Stomach Condition, Studies Find

Gastroparesis is a rare complication, but researchers have identified a clear link.

There's no denying the impact that Ozempic and other similar medications have had over the past year. While Ozempic itself is approved for the treatment of diabetes, it's often prescribed off-label to help patients shed pounds—along with its sister drug, Wegovy, and others like it that are FDA-approved for the treatment of obesity. The side effects of these medications have been well-documented, but researchers are looking into more serious complications. Now, multiple studies have identified a link between weight-loss drugs and gastroparesis, a serious stomach condition.

RELATED: Women Report New Surprising Ozempic Side Effects: "Your Body Is Going to Change."

Preliminary data has been released from three new studies concerning the likelihood of patients developing stomach paralysis, or gastroparesis, from taking GLP-1 agonists, CNN reported.

Two of the studies were presented at the 2024 Digestive Disease Week conference in Washington, D.C., on May 18, while the third was presented on May 20, according to the news outlet. None of these studies have yet been published in medical journals, however.

Gastroparesis is a "disorder that slows or stops the movement of food from your stomach to your small intestine, even though there is no blockage in the stomach or intestines," according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

There have already been anecdotal reports of this disorder linked to at least one GLP-1 agonist, Ozempic, resulting in a major lawsuit against the medication's maker Novo Nordisk.

But the three new studies have concluded that all GLP-1 drugs carry a rare but consistent risk of gastroparesis.

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

One study led by researchers at University Hospitals in Cleveland determined that there was a 52 percent increased risk of being diagnosed with this disorder when on a GLP-1 medication, while another study led by researchers at the University of Kansas found that those who were taking these drugs were about 66 percent more likely to be diagnosed with gastroparesis.

"Although these drugs do work and should be used for the right reason, we just want to caution everyone that if you do decide to start this, be prepared that you have a 30 percent chance that you may have gastrointestinal (GI) side effects, and then the drug may have to be discontinued," study author Prateek Sharma, MD, professor of medicine at the University of Kansas School of Medicine, told CNN.

Symptoms of gastroparesis can include "feeling full shortly after starting a meal, feeling full long after eating a meal, nausea, and vomiting," according to the NIH.

While treatment can help alleviate these symptoms, this is usually a chronic condition that does not go away or have a definitive cure—unless you develop it because you're taking certain drugs.

RELATED: Ozempic Researcher Was "Extremely Alarmed" Over Thyroid Cancer Risk.

Those who experience gastroparesis as a result of the drugs they're taking could find a simple solution to curing the condition.

"If a patient is on a medication which is associated with gastroparesis, they can stop or change medications and their gastroparesis will likely go away," board-certified gastroenterologist Craig Gluckman, MD, explained in a post for the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine.

Still, these studies have determined that there is a not insignificant risk of a serious complication. Many experts are also concerned that the gastroparesis risk from GLP-1 medications has been underestimated throughout clinical trials.

"For the people who get this complication, it is extremely serious," Michael Camilleri, MD, a gastroenterologist and researcher at the Mayo Clinic who has studied gastroparesis with the GLP-1 drug liraglutide, told CNN.

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.

Kali Coleman
Kali Coleman is a Senior Editor at Best Life. Her primary focus is covering news, where she often keeps readers informed on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and up-to-date on the latest retail closures. Read more
Filed Under
Sources referenced in this article
  1. Source: