This celebrity-hyped injectable could cause cancer, blurred vision, pancreatitis and gallstones — so is it really worth shooting your shot?
Ozempic has become the hottest prescription on the market, beloved by the A-List and touted as a quick fix for shedding unwanted pounds.
But the medication, initially designed for people with Type 2 diabetes, can have serious side effects, with doctors now reportedly witnessing a spike in ER admissions among users.
Injected once per week into the stomach, thigh or arm, Ozempic and sister drug Wegovy are semaglutides, which help the pancreas release the right amount of insulin when blood sugar levels are high.
“Semaglutide is produced while we eat; it tells the brain that we are full,” Dr. Katherine H. Saunders, a New York City physician, told The Post. “It helps people to feel less hungry, to feel full faster, and to stay full longer — but it does so when we are actually less full.”
However, that sensation can cause an array of health problems that are becoming more pervasive as Ozempic and Wegovy continue to surge in popularity.
Just last week, one ER doctor took to Twitter to write: “The amount of people coming to the ER for the side effects of Ozempic. Diarrhea. Nausea. Bloating.”
Meanwhile, other medics are sounding the alarm about additional side effects, including blurred vision, kidney failure and gallstones.
Dr. Laurie A. Keefer, an academic health psychologist and the director for psychobehavioral research within the Division of Gastroenterology at Mount Sinai, told CBS News that she has personally seen Ozempic patients present with the latter two issues.
Alarmingly, the doc declared that some serious long-term side effects may still remain unseen, given that the drugs are relatively new to the market.
The official prescribing guide for Ozempic states that side effects could include “possible thyroid tumors, including cancer.”
Below is a list of the Ozempic side effects, from the super serious to the superficial.
Pam Peters, 71, was prescribed Ozempic to help manage her Type 2 diabetes earlier this year.
However, the Ohio resident said she began to experience blurred vision after just three injections of the drug.
“It was as if someone had thrown a switch,” Peters told local network WKYC before rushing to her ophthalmologist.
“I couldn’t read street signs, lights had halos, my night vision was just gone,” she stated. “I could no longer drive at night.”
The Ohio Ozempic user said she reported her vision issue to the Food and Drug Administration and believes there are many others who have experienced similar issues.
“They [doctors] said there are probably more people out there with vision problems, but they’re not correlating it with the Ozempic,” she declared.
While “changes in vision” is listed as a side effect on Ozempic’s official website, it’s unclear whether the drug directly causes that symptom or whether diabetics who take the drug just happen to experience diabetic retinopathy — an eye condition that can cause vision loss and blindness in people who have diabetes.
According to one UK website, diabetic patients are most likely to experience blurred vision while taking Ozempic due to high sugar levels, which can damage the retina.
The site adds that vision changes are an “uncommon” side effect among users.
Pancreatitis and gallbladder issues
Meanwhile, another diabetic Ozempic user recently told Healthline that she was also prescribed the drug in 2018 to help manage the disease.
She went on to suffer a very different — and very severe — side effect.
Dawn Gentle said she started to experience severe abdominal pain, which led to her being rushed to the emergency room. Doctors later diagnosed her with pancreatitis — swelling of the pancreas — and discovered a tumorous cancer on the organ.
She was using Ozempic for three years before doctors made their diagnosis in 2021.
“When I asked the doctor if it was also caused by taking Ozempic, he was nice enough to inform me that it was strongly possible,” Gentle stated.
According to Healthline, at least one medical trial confirmed that Ozempic caused thyroid C-cell tumors in rodents — although it’s unclear whether it causes similar cancers in humans.
Dr. Rebkha B. Kumar, associate professor of medicine at Cornell, is skeptical that the drug directly caused Gentle to develop pancreatitis or cancer.
“It is rare and more common in patients with other risk factors for pancreatitis, [including] prior history of pancreatitis, high triglycerides, high alcohol intake, or other genetic predispositions to pancreatitis,” Kumar told Healthline, claiming the side effect was “correlation and not a causation.”
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Similarly, a number of Ozempic users have reported to the emergency room with gallbladder issues — with one expert claiming the side effect stems from the body failing to adapt quickly enough to rapid weight loss.
“Rapid weight loss causes the liver to pump out more bile and more cholesterol, both of which can lead to the formation of gallstones within the gallbladder,” pharmacist Dr. Dan recently explained in a viral TikTok video.
“We see the same situations with people who do crash diets or do bariatric surgery … In some situations it can be severe enough that an individual needs to have their gallbladder removed,” he explained.
Stomach and digestion issues
Some Ozempic users are stinking up a storm, saying smelly side effects include putrid belches and unpredictable, explosive diarrhea.
The Post recently reported that about 30% of Wegovy users have experienced diarrhea, including some who claim they’ve woken up in the middle of the night to discover that they’ve defecated in their sleep.
Others on the injectable drugs say their burps have started to smell like rotten eggs.
After just three days on the medication, one TikToker noticed she was burping more, while Twitter owner Elon Musk, who admitted to using Wegovy last year to shed 30 pounds, said his burps are “next level.”
On the other end of the spectrum, some Ozempic and Wegovy users aren’t able to get out what they’re putting in, claiming to be crippled by constipation
User Angela Adams, 47, recently told Insider that she went more than a week without pooping.
“It got to the point where it was kind of scary,” the nurse declared. “My stomach was hurting. I was in pain.”
As in the case of many other Ozempic and Wegovy users, Adams subsequently turned to laxatives to help relieve herself — and subsequently found she couldn’t control her bowel movements.
Dr. Keefer told CBS News that patients’ social lives are becoming adversely impacted by such side effects.
“Anxiety about when and where symptoms will occur can also lead to avoidance of social activities, especially ones in which food is the focus, or when bathrooms may not be readily available,” she stated. “Because the brain and gut are so connected, the emotional symptoms can in turn worsen the gastrointestinal symptoms creating a vicious cycle.”
While Ozempic and Wegovy help users shed unwanted weight, some say they’re unable to maintain a healthy, balanced diet due to nausea or the sensation of feeling full.
The New York Times recently reported that people “taking Ozempic tend to lose weight because they consume fewer calories, not because the drug itself magically burns fat,” which can lead to malnutrition in extreme cases.
“You can’t eat what you feel like or what you want,” Renata Lavach-Savy, 37, told the publication. “You have to eat what your body will accept.”
Lavach-Savy was told by doctors that she was malnourished just four months after she began using Ozempic.
She said the drug completely killed her appetite and she was no longer able to consume the nutrients needed for her body to function effectively.
Meanwhile, one doctor who has started prescribing Ozempic says he counsels his patients on their diets to make sure they’re consuming the food they need.
“We’re not trying to make you vanish into nothingness,” Dr. Andrew Kraftson, a clinical associate professor in the division of metabolism, endocrinology and diabetes at Michigan Medicine, told the Times, saying users still need to consume up to 1,500 calories per day.
Aesthetic side effects
While not as serious as some of the other side effects, changes to the face, fingers and wrists have concerned some Ozempic adherents.
One doctor recently coined the term “Ozempic old face” to describe the deflation and sagging that often occurs to a user’s visage after they begin taking the drug.
“I see it every day in my office,” the doc, Paul Jarrod Frank, told People. “A 50-year-old patient will come in, and suddenly, she’s super-skinny and needs filler, which she never needed before. I look at her and say, ‘How long have you been on Ozempic?’ And I’m right 100% of the time.”
Jennifer Berger, 41, told the New York Times that she lost 20 pounds after being prescribed Ozempic, but it had a detrimental effect on her overall look.
“I remember looking in the mirror, and it was almost like I didn’t even recognize myself,” she stated. “My body looked great, but my face looked exhausted and old.”
Several frustrated users recently told The Post that their fingers and wrists are shrinking before their eyes, making it impossible to keep on their expensive wedding rings and bracelets.
Jessica, a 40-year-old part-time preschool teacher from Houston, started Ozempic injections last October and lost 17 pounds in just six weeks — but there was a downside.
“I never realized weight loss also happened in your hands, but my ring suddenly didn’t fit,” she stated, referring to the “Ozempic finger” phenomenon.
Despite all the side effects, the drugs are still flying off the shelves, with doctors declaring that the injectables are generally safe when used properly by the appropriate patients.
Novo Nordisk, the maker of Ozempic and Wegovy, told CBS News that the drugs “are a well-established class of medicines, which have demonstrated long-term safety in clinical trials.”