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Study - Fatty Diet Linked To Pancreatic Cancer Risk

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Monday, June 29, 2009 12:20 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs, Cancer, Heart Attack, Pancreatic Cancer

Regions included in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study *

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IMAGE SOURCE: National Institutes of Health

A new study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests diets high in fat from red meat and dairy products can increase the risk for pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer kills 95 percent of its victims, and though it's far less common than many other types, it's the nation's fourth leading cause of cancer deaths.

Even when diagnosed early, pancreatic cancer often has a poor prognosis. It typically spreads rapidly and is seldom detected in its early stages, which is a major reason why it's a leading cause of cancer death.

People who ate high amounts of saturated fats had 36 percent higher rates of pancreatic cancer than did those who ate low amounts, researchers report in the July 15 edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

For the study, NIH researchers gathered data on more than 500,000 people -- 308,736 men and 216,737 women -- enrolled in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study.

The participants were required to answer a food frequency questionnaire and were followed to track a variety of health issues, including pancreatic cancer.

During an average 6.3 year follow-up, 1,337 people (865 men / 472 women) were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Men who ate the highest amounts of total fats were 53 percent more likely to develop pancreatic cancer while women who consumed the highest amount were 23 percent more likely to be diagnosed with the cancer than those who consumed the lowest amounts of fat.

The association between fat intake and pancreatic cancer, researchers say, could be related to so-called exocrine function of the pancreas, which makes enzymes that break down fats and protein in foods.

Researchers note, this study is not the first to find an association between animal fat and increased risk of pancreatic cancer.

In an accompanying journal, Dr. Brian Wolpin, M.D., of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Dr. Meir Sampfer, of the Harvard School of Public Health said the study was a “welcome addition to understanding a disease that is in great need of new insights.”

“Understanding ways of reducing pancreatic cancer risk is important, because it can be a difficult disease to treat.”

“Apart from stopping smoking, the best way to reduce your risk of cancer is to consume plenty of fruits, vegetables, fiber and to cut down on your intake of fatty foods, red and processed meats and limit alcohol intake.”

Steve Jobs, Apple founder has a form of endocrine tumor of the pancreas, and actor Patrick Swayze is said to be fighting pancreatic cancer. #


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