Pancreatic cancer is one of the most serious of all cancers. It
develops when malignant cells form in the tissues of the pancreas — a
large organ that lies horizontally behind the lower part of the stomach.
In the United States, approximately 30,000 people die of pancreatic cancer
each year, and only 5 percent of patients
will survive more than 5 years. Men and women who are overweight or obese
are more likely to develop it than those who are thin.
Cigarette smoking increases the risk of the disease. About 3 percent of
all cases are what's known as familial pancreatic
cancer, where the disease has affected two or more first-degree
relatives -- siblings or a parent and child.
Studies do not support routine screening of people from families affected by familial pancreatic cancer. Gut, October 2009.
Pancreatic cancer grows slowly, taking years and even decades to develop, a finding that offers the chance to catch it early and cure it. One of the most lethal cancers kills not because it spreads like wildfire, but because it does not cause symptoms until it is advanced.
Diet and Pancreatic
Physical activity decreases risk of pancreatic cancer, obesity increases risk. A diet high in vegetables reduces the risk. High consumption of sugar and high-sugar foods are associated with a greater risk of pancreatic cancer. Eating more whole grain and fiber-rich food lowers the risk. Flavonols are common in plant-based foods but are found in highest concentrations in onions, apples, berries, kale and broccoli. People who eat the largest amounts of flavonolds have reduced risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
People who regularly eat burned or charred red meat, like that cooked on a grill, have a higher risk. High daily alcohol consumption over time increases the risk.
People who drink two or more sweetened soft drinks a week have a much higher risk of pancreatic cancer. A study of 60,000 people in Singapore found people who drank mostly fruit juice instead of sodas did not have the same risk. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, February 2010.
Where a person carries their extra weight may influence their risk of pancreatic cancer. People -- especially women -- with more fat around their waistline are at increased risk of the deadly disease. Archives of Internal Medicine, May 10, 2010.
Eating more raw vegetables every day, especially yellow and dark green ones and cauliflower, lowers the risk. According to a Swedish study, eating plenty of cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and broccoli may offer protection against cancer of the pancreas. For the study, the eating habits of 40,000 women and 49,000 men were monitored over seven years. Of the total, 135 were treated for cancer of the pancreas. While researchers found no general link between frequency of the cancer and consumption of fruits and vegetables, those who ate plenty of cabbage were less likely to contract the illness. Eating a lot of red meat may raise the risk for pancreatic cancer.
J Gastrointestinal Cancer. 2013. Nutrients from fruit and vegetable consumption reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer.
Anticancer Res. 2011. Pomegranate extract induces cell cycle arrest and alters cellular phenotype of human pancreatic cancer cells.
J Gastrointest Cancer. 2013. Nutrients from fruit and vegetable consumption reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer. We conclude that most nutrients obtained through consumption of fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
Supplements for Pancreatic cancer
Folic acid in food may reduce the risk, but it is not clear whether a folic acid supplements would have such benefit. Increased levels of dietary folate from food appears to reduce the risk of developing pancreatic cancer, according to results of a large population-based study of Swedish men and women. Previous studies have suggested that folate may protect against colorectal and breast cancer. Folate, also known as folic acid, is a B vitamin that is naturally found in fruits and vegetables. The US government has mandated that manufacturers fortify grain products with folic acid, adding it to flour, rice, pasta and cornmeal.
Grape proanthocyanidin inhibit pancreatic cancer cell growth in vitro and in vivo through induction of apoptosis and by targeting the PI3K/Akt pathway. PLoS One. 2012.
Vitamin D could be helpful in reducing the risk for pancreatic cancer.
Lycopene is found in tomatoes
Melatonin influences pancreatic cancerogenesis. Observations suggest that melatonin at high doses could be potentially taken into consideration as the supportive treatment in the therapy of pancreatic cancer, although the effect of melatonin on apoptosis requires further study. Histol Histopathol. 2013 Nov 21.
Triphala, an Ayurvedic herbal combo.
Vitamin D role
People who take vitamin D tablets are less likely to get deadly pancreatic cancert. It is still early to say whether getting the vitamin from food or sunlight also reduces the risk. Vitamin D has shown strong potential for preventing and treating prostate cancer, and areas with greater sunlight exposure have lower incidence and mortality for prostate, breast, and colon cancers, leading us to investigate a role for Vitamin D in pancreatic cancer risk. Working with colleagues at Harvard University, Dr. Skinner's team examined data from two large, long-term health surveys involving 46,771 men between 40 and 75 years old and 75,427 women between 38 and 65. They found that people who took the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance of Vitamin D, 400 IU a day, had a 43-percent lower risk of pancreatic cancer. Those who took doses of less than 150 IU per day had a 22 percent reduced risk of cancer. Writing in the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, the researchers said taking more than 400 IU a day did not reduce the risk further.
Inositol hexaphosphate (IP6): a novel treatment for pancreatic cancer.
J Surg Res. 2005. Johnson VA Medical Center, Clarksburg, West Virginia; Department of Surgery, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia, USA.
Inositol hexaphosphate (IP6) is a naturally occurring polyphosphorylated carbohydrate found in food sources high in fiber content. IP6 has been reported to have significant inhibitory effects against a variety of primary tumors including breast and colon. The effects of IP6 have not been evaluated in pancreatic cancer. We hypothesized that IP6 would significantly inhibit cell growth and increase the apoptotic rate of pancreatic cancer in vitro. Two pancreatic cancer cell lines (MIAPACA and PANC1) were cultured using standard techniques and treated with IP6 at doses of 0.5, 1.0, and 5.0 mm. Cell viability was measured by MTT at 24 and 72 h. Significant reductions in cellular proliferation were observed with all IP6 concentrations tested in both cell lines and at both time points. Reductions in cell proliferation ranged from 37 to 91%. IP6 increased early and late apoptotic activity. Treatment of pancreatic cancer with the common dietary polyphosphorylated carbohydrate IP6 significantly decreased cellular growth and increased apoptosis. Our findings suggest that IP6 has the potential to become an effective adjunct for pancreatic cancer treatment. Further in vivo and human studies are needed to evaluate safety and clinical utility of this agent in patients with pancreatic cancer.
Dietary intake of lycopene is associated with reduced pancreatic cancer risk.
J Nutr. 2005.
Although fruits and vegetables have been implicated in the etiology of pancreatic cancer, the role of phytochemicals in these food groups has received little attention to date. In this study, we investigated the possible association between dietary carotenoids and pancreatic cancer risk. A case-control study of 462 histologically confirmed pancreatic cancer cases and 4721 population-based controls in 8 Canadian provinces took place between 1994 and 1997. After adjustment for age, province, BMI, smoking, educational attainment, dietary folate, and total energy intake, lycopene, provided mainly by tomatoes, was associated with a 31% reduction in pancreatic cancer risk among men when comparing the highest and lowest quartiles of intake. Both beta-carotene and total carotenoids were associated with a significantly reduced risk among those who never smoked. The results of this study suggest that a diet rich in tomatoes and tomato-based products with high lycopene content may help reduce pancreatic cancer risk.
Function and role
The pancreas secretes pancreatic enzymes that aid digestion and hormones that help regulate the metabolism of carbohydrates.
Several types of diseases related to the pancreas exist, including:
Diabetes mellitus - Death from pancreatic carcinoma occurs in 0.2-1.9% of all diabetic patients, being more than 300 times frequent compared to general population. Diabetes may be the only clinical sign of pancreatic carcinoma in some patients.
Pancreatitis, acute and chronic
Pancreatic enzyme deficiency
Pancreatic tumor or cancer. Pancreatic cancer has a terrible prognosis, with only about 5 percent of patients still alive five years after diagnosis. This is largely because the cancer is rarely caught early; its symptoms, which include weight loss, pain in the upper abdomen and jaundice, usually arise only after the cancer has spread.
This occurs when the pancreas doesn't make enough enzymes for adequate digestion. Pancreatic insufficiency isn't a disease but a sign of an underlying problem. It typically results from damage to the pancreas, such as due to chronic inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) or cystic fibrosis.
Cause of Pancreatic Cancer
Several causes include eating a lot of red meat, being diabetic, and smoking.
Eating a lot of red meat, and particularly processed meat, increases the risk of pancreatic cancer, according to findings from a large multiethnic study. The results hint that carcinogenic substances used in meat processing rather than the fat or cholesterol content might be responsible for the association. Nothlings, from the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii in Honolulu, and colleagues examined the relationship between diet and pancreatic cancer in 190,545 men and women who included African Americans, Japanese Americans, Caucasians, Latinos and Native Hawaiians. During an average follow up of 7 years, 482 subjects developed pancreatic cancer. After taking into account age, smoking status, history of diabetes, family history of pancreatic cancer and ethnicity, subjects with the highest intake of processed meat had a 67 percent increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer compared to those with the lowest intake of processed meat. A high intake of pork and total red meat increased the risk of pancreatic cancer by about 50 percent. Consumption of poultry, fish, dairy products, and eggs did not influence the overall risk of pancreatic cancer, nor did overall intake of total fat, saturated fat or cholesterol. A diet containing lots of processed meats, like hot dogs and sausages, raises the risk of pancreatic cancer. The researchers found that heavy consumers of processed meats -- 40 grams a day or more -- were 67 percent more likely to develop cancer of the pancreas than study participants with the lowest intake. In addition, a diet rich in pork and red meat -- 70 grams a day or more -- also increased pancreatic cancer risk by about 50 percent.
Middle-aged and older Americans who are newly diagnosed with diabetes also appear to have a higher risk of pancreatic cancer. For three years after their diagnosis with diabetes, patients have eight times the risk of developing pancreatic cancer, a study at the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center found.
Smokers who consume diets rich in saturated fat may be at increased risk of pancreatic cancer.
For people with a strong family history of pancreatic cancer, having a relative who was diagnosed before the age of 50 raises the risk of developing the condition. About 3 percent of all cases are what's known as familial pancreatic cancer, where the disease has affected two or more first-degree relatives -- siblings or a parent and child. Dr. Alison P. Klein, of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore thinks the results may also help researchers figure out which individuals might benefit most from pancreatic cancer screening to detect suspicious growths early. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, online January 12, 2010 published the study by Dr. Alison P. Klein.
Heavy alcohol drinking raises the risk.
People with type 2 diabetes taking the drugs Januvia or Byetta might have an increased risk of developing pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer,
Exposure to higher insulin levels and insulin resistance appears to influence the association between type 2 diabetes and pancreatic cancer. Therefore, a diet that helps maintain normal blood sugar levels may reduce the risk.
Pancreatic cancer symptom
This condition has a dismal prognosis since the cancer is rarely caught early; its symptoms, which include weight loss, pain in the upper abdomen and jaundice, usually arise only after the cancer has spread. Patients typically report the gradual onset of nonspecific symptoms such as anorexia, malaise, nausea, fatigue, and midepigastric or back pain. Significant weight loss is a characteristic feature of pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic cancer treatment
Treatment depends on pancreatic cancer stage. Survival rate also depends on the stage.
Pancreatic cancer prognosis -
The incidence is increasing but the prognosis remains extremely poor. The average life expectancy after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer is 2 to 7 months.