By Dr. Pradeep Jain
Pancreatic cancer is one of the most dreaded cancers of the GIT. Worldwide, over 2, 00,000 people die aurally of pancreatic cancer. While questions are plenty about pancreatic cancer symptoms and various pancreatic cancer stages, it is important to look for a problem-solving approach. The overall survival is very bleak as these cancers are often less sensitive to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The best way to decrease the complications and death rate of these cancers is to diagnose them early. In view of non-availability of any screening test, this highly aggressive disease is rarely diagnosed at an early stage.
Find out! What is the #1 cause of pancreatic cancer?
Dietary modifications play an important role in preventing cancers, so as in pancreatic cancer also. Many studies have shown the association of pancreatic cancer with obesity and fat consumption. Consumption of fat has been linked to pancreatic cancer not only directly but also by causing obesity. In obesity, there is a general increase in the inflammatory conditions in the body which leads to the release of some chemicals (cytokines) which have an important role in the creation of pancreatic cancer.
Consumption of saturated fats linked to pancreatic cancer
Many studies have shown that consumption of saturated fats have been shown to increase incidence of pancreatic cancer. In fact a study published (which comprised of more than ½ million US adults) in the journal of the National Cancer Institute in 2009 demonstrated a positive association between dietary intake of total fat, particularly fat from animal sources.
When people taking the highest of fat were compared to people taking the lowest of fat, they are 23% more likely to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer (the effect was more profound when intake of saturated fat was more).
It is very difficult to comment on how fat consumption leads to pancreatic cancer, but it is likely that fat stimulates the release of an important hormone CCK (Cholecystokinin) for biliary and pancreatic secretion. And this hormone is an important instrument in the growth of pancreatic cancer cells.
In fact in an experimental study, the antagonist of CCK, Proglumide has shown to decrease the growth of cancer cells and decrease the metastatic spread of cancer.
Pancreatic Cancer and Importance of good nutrition
Good nutritional care improves outcomes such as:
- A low fat diet and sugars, together with a healthy lifestyle
- Regular exercise
- Weight reduction
- Not smoking
These may contribute to prevent pancreatic cancer.
A recent study published in Nov 2017 issue of AICR'S cancer research update have found that older women, who were overweight or obese had lowered the risk of getting pancreatic cancer by opting for a low fat diet plan. Some were arranged to eat less fat and more vegetables, fruits and grains (the intervention group) other followed their normal diet (the comparison group).
During the 15 years of follow up, 92 cases were identified in the intervention group and 165 in the comparison group. This translates to a rate of 35 cases per 100,000 in the intervention group and 41 per 100,000 in the comparison group. L
Low fat diet was effective in reducing pancreatic cancer risk in overweight and obese post-menopausal woman.
However, dietary components are also thought to play a part in the development of this disease, as obesity and high consumption of red meat, fried foods are all risk factors. Conversely and according to some studies a diet rich in vegetables, fresh fruit, nuts and whole grains is useful in the prevention of pancreatic cancer.
In a nutshell, we should motivate the general public to exercise and also to consume more of diet rich in fibres and reduce saturated fat content.
The columnist is Director, Laparoscopic, Gastrointestinal, Bariatric & Metabolic Surgery, General and Laparoscopic Surgery, Bariatric & Metabolic Surgery, GI Oncosurgery, Medical Oncology, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh.