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Pancreatic Cancer

Cancer affects most families sooner or later, so shouldn’t we all learn how to prevent it? Because pancreatic cancer is widely dreaded as extremely difficult to detect and treat, I was quite encouraged by recent studies. Whatever prevents this scary disease surely give clues to avoiding other malignancies such as those of the breast, lung and colon. Below is an outline of several things that help or hurt. (Given their other proven benefits, I’m not depending on more studies before I spread the good word.)

News: These lists summarize the findings of the studies on pancreatic cancer listed at the bottom of this page:

What reduced risk:

  • The B vitamin, Folic Acid, in the diet. In a study of over 100,000, it was found that the more folate women ate in food, the lower their risk of pancreatic cancer. The effect was not seen in men.
  • Higher dietary magnesium intake (for overweight men with a body mass index score of 25 or greater. Isn’t that the average man these days?)
  • Fish oil, vitamin C and vitamin E
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Supplemental Vitamin D (up to a 43% reduced risk. Listed other cancers D benefits.)
  • Low dose aspirin has significant bleeding risks but is preventive of this type of cancer. (Therefore an anti-inflammatory diet and supplements should also be protective and avoid the bleeding risk.)

What increased risk:

  • Smoking (the #1 risk factor)
  • Soft drinks (87% increased risk pancreatic cancer from consumption of soft drinks. It took as little as 2 per day. hmm, pop leads to diabetes too…)
  • Donuts (The study on whole grains found that while fiber decreased risk, consumption of a couple of donuts a week increased risk significantly.)
  • Cooked cereals (yes, surprising)
  • Animal products, sauces and gravies (All meats seemed to increase risk but beef was actually lower than lamb and fish was lower yet. Smoked and processed meats seem especially harmful. They almost never factor in whether meat is grass fed.)
  • Higher amounts of saturated fat (As noted in my book, Fat Free Folly, not all saturated fat is bad but they lump them together.)

Treatment:

  • Pancreatic cancer patients experienced what I’d call miraculous results when given the antioxidant and liver supporting supplement, Alpha Lipoic Acid. (This is the second article reporting case studies of patients with pancreatic cancer (which had spread to their livers) who had their disease totally disappear. According to the authors, ALA reduces oxidative stress, stabilizes an important immune factor (NF(k)B), stimulates cancer cells to self-destruct and discourages the malignant cells from spreading.)
  • Curcumin (a component of the spice Turmeric) has shown great promise but only with special forms that are made more bio-available. Research is going on around the world, even the MD Anderson Cancer Center) on the use of Curcumin for the treatment and prevention of various cancers including pancreatic. It seems to help the medications work better but not all patients respond.

Conclusions? Frequently these associations have confounding factors. E.g. Is the presence of the larger amounts of beneficial veggies in some groups the key factor rather than their eating less meat? Also, I always wonder whether the vegetable eaters aren’t more conscientious about other health practices. For example, researchers adjusted for subjects that smoked and had diabetes, but apparently not for whether they exercised, got sunshine, took supplements, avoided medications and alcohol. The

References:
Folate intake, post-folic acid grain fortification, and pancreatic cancer risk in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial, Oaks BM, Dodd KW, et al, Am J Clin Nutr, 2010; 91(2): 449-55

Moderate elevation of body iron level and increased risk of cancer occurrence and death. Stevens RG, Graubard BI, Micozzi MS, Neriishi K, Blumberg BS. Int J Cancer. 1994 Feb 1;56(3):364-9.

A prospective study of magnesium and iron intake and pancreatic cancer in men, Kesavan Y, Michaud DS, et al, Am J Epidemiol, 2010; 171(2): 233-41

Intake of fatty acids and antioxidants and pancreatic cancer in a large population-based case-control study in the San Francisco Bay Area. Gong Z, Holly EA, Wang F, Chan JM, Bracci PM. Int J Cancer. 2010 Jan 26.

Consumption of Food Groups and the Risk of Pancreatic Cancer: A Case-Control Study. Ghadirian P, Nkondjock A. J Gastrointest Cancer. 2010 Jan 26.

Whole grains and risk of pancreatic cancer in a large population-based case-control study in the San Francisco Bay Area, California . Chan JM, Wang F, Holly EA. Am J Epidemiol. 2007 Nov 15;166(10):1174-85.

How strong is the evidence that solar ultraviolet B and vitamin D reduce the risk of cancer?: An examination using Hill’s criteria for causality. Grant WB. Dermatoendocrinol. 2009 Jan;1(1):17-24.

Case-control study of aspirin use and risk of pancreatic cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2014 Jul;23(7):1254-63. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-13-1284. Streicher SA1, Yu H2, Lu L1, Kidd MS3, Risch HA4.

Soft drink and juice consumption and risk of pancreatic cancer: the Singapore Chinese Health Study. Mueller NT, Odegaard A, Anderson K, Yuan JM, Gross M, Koh WP, Pereira MA. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2010 Feb;19(2):447-55.

Whole grains and risk of pancreatic cancer in a large population-based case-control study in the San Francisco Bay Area, California . Chan JM, Wang F, Holly EA. Am J Epidemiol. 2007 Nov 15;166(10):1174-85.

Whole grains and risk of pancreatic cancer in a large population-based case-control study in the San Francisco Bay Area, California . Chan JM, Wang F, Holly EA. Am J Epidemiol. 2007 Nov 15;166(10):1174-85.

Role of sugars in human neutrophilic phagocytosis. Albert Sanchez, J. L. Reeser , H. S. Lau, P. Y. Yahiku, R. E. Willard, P. J. McMillan, S. Y. Cho, A. R. Magie, and U. D. Register. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol 26, 1180-1184 .

The role of dysregulated glucose metabolism in epithelial ovarian cancer. Kellenberger LD, Bruin JE, Greenaway J, Campbell NE , Moorehead RA, Holloway AC, Petrik J. J Oncol. 2010;2010:514310.

Association Between Capacity of Interferon-alpha Production and Metabolic Parameters. Tominaga M, Uno K, Yagi K, Fukui M, Hasegawa G, Yoshikawa T, Nakumura N. J Interferon Cytokine Res. 2010 Mar 17.

Consumption of Food Groups and the Risk of Pancreatic Cancer: A Case-Control Study. Ghadirian P, Nkondjock A. J Gastrointest Cancer. 2010 Jan 26.

Revisiting the ALA/N (alpha-lipoic acid/low-dose naltrexone) protocol for people with metastatic and nonmetastatic pancreatic cancer: a report of 3 new cases. Berkson BM, Rubin DM, et al, Integr Cancer Ther, 2009; 8(4): 416-22.

Curcumin as an anti-cancer agent: review of the gap between basic and clinical applications. Bar-Sela G, Epelbaum R, Schaffer M. Curr Med Chem. 2010 Jan;17(3):190-7.

Copyright 2010 by Martie Whittekin, CCN

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