U.S. regulators have approved a new diabetes drug that reduces blood sugar levels and also helps people lose weight. The Food and Drug Administration approved the once-a-week shot for people with Type 2 diabetes. The drug, called Ozempic, comes in injector pens. It stimulates insulin production and reduces appetite. On average, the medicine reduced long-term blood sugar levels at least 2½ times as much as a popular daily diabetes pill in one big study. It also helped study participants lose two to three times as much weight as those in the comparison group given Merck & Co.’s Januvia.

Mammograms don’t do much to save lives

Breast cancer deaths have declined markedly in the Netherlands since a nationwide screening program began in 1989, but mammograms deserve little — if any — of the credit, a new study suggests. In fact, the main effect of inviting women between the ages of 50 and 74 to get a mammogram every other year has been a steady increase in cases of early-stage breast cancers. More than half of these cancers were harmless and would have gone unnoticed if women hadn’t had mammograms in the first place, the study authors report. As more women were invited to join the program and the screenings became more high-tech, the overall benefit of those mammograms fell. In what they called the “best case scenario,” the researchers calculated that for every woman whose life was saved by a mammogram, 16 others were unnecessarily diagnosed with breast cancer.

Hidden cancer risks: Diabetes and obesity

Does a widening waistline put you at risk for cancer? Apparently so. According to a new study, nearly 6 percent of cancers are attributable at least in part to obesity and diabetes. Researchers compared incidence data for 12 cancers in 175 countries in 2012 with body mass index and diabetes prevalence figures from 2002, on the assumption that it takes at least 10 years for cancer to develop. They found that in 2012, diabetes and a BMI above 25 were independent risk factors for 792,600 new cases of cancer, about 5.6 percent of the more than 14 million cases reported to a worldwide cancer registry. Among the cancers associated with diabetes and high BMI were tumors of the colon, gallbladder, liver and pancreas. Obesity and diabetes weren’t the only causes of these cancers, but the conditions played a role.

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