Thursday, July 26, 2012

High Dietary Antioxidant Intake Might Cut Pancreatic Cancer Risk

New research suggests that increasing dietary intake of the antioxidant vitamins C, E, and seleniumcould help cut the risk of developing pancreatic cancer by up to two thirds.

Cancer of the pancreas kills more than a quarter of a million people every year around the world. A total of 21,773 pancreatic cancer cases were diagnosed among Malaysians in Peninsular Malaysia in the year 2006 and constituted 1.16% of total cancers registered in the National Cancer Registry(NCR). The incidence among the Malaysian Chinese was higher than in Indians and Malays*. 

The disease has the worst prognosis of any cancer, with just 3% of people surviving beyond five years. Genes, smoking, and type 2 diabetes are all risk factors, but diet is also thought to have a role, and may explain why rates vary so much from country to country, say the authors.

The researchers, who are leading the Norfolk arm of the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer (EPIC) study, tracked the health of more than 23,500 40 to 74 year olds, who had entered the Norfolk arm of the EPIC study between 1993 and 1997.

Participants completed 7-day food diaries which recorded foods, brands and portion sizes. Nutrient intakes were calculated in those later diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and in 3970 controls, using a computer program with information on 11 000 foods.

Within 10 years, 49 participants (55% men), developed pancreatic cancer. Those eating a combination of the highest three quartiles of all of vitamins C and E and selenium had a decreased risk

The analysis showed that a weekly intake of selenium in the top 25% of consumption roughly halved their risk of developing pancreatic cancer compared with those whose intake was in the bottom 25%.

And those whose vitamins C, E, and selenium intake was in the top 25% of consumption were 67% less likely to develop pancreatic cancer than those who were in the bottom 25%.

If the link turns out to be causal, that would add up to the prevention of more than one in 12 (8%) of pancreatic cancers, calculate the authors.

Antioxidants may neutralise the harmful by-products of metabolism and normal cell activity—free radicals—and curb genetically programmed influences, as well as stimulating the immune system response, explain the authors.

Other trials using antioxidant supplements have not produced such encouraging results, but this may be because food sources of these nutrients may behave differently from those found in supplements, they say.

"If a causal association is confirmed by reporting consistent findings from other epidemiological studies, then population based dietary recommendations may help to prevent pancreatic cancer," they conclude.


The above story is based on the July 23, 2012 news release by the BMJ-British Medical Journal.

The research has been published online July 23, 2012 in The Gut, an international journal of gastroenterology & hepatology:

Banim PJR, Luben R, McTaggart A, Welch A, Wareham N, Khaw K, Hart AR. Dietary antioxidants and the aetiology of pancreatic cancer: a cohort study using data from food diaries and biomarkers. Gut doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2011-301908

Read the full paper HERE.

*The NCR cautions the reader that for this cancer, the registration of cases was incomplete. In other words, the incidence statistic reported here are lower than the true incidence in the population

What is Pancreatic Cancer?
The pancreas is a large organ located behind the stomach. It makes and releases enzymes into the intestines that help the body absorb foods, especially fats.

Hormones called insulin and glucagon, which help your body control blood sugar levels, are made in special cells in the pancreas called islet cells. Tumors can also occur in these cells, but they are called islet cell tumors.

The exact cause of pancreatic cancer is unknown. It is more common in:
  • People with diabetes
  • People with long-term inflammation of the pancreas (chronic pancreatitis)
  • Smokers
Pancreatic cancer is slightly more common in men than in women. The risk increases with age. A small number of cases are related to genetic syndromes that are passed down through families.

Can pancreatic cancer be prevented?
There is no sure way to prevent cancer of the pancreas at this time. For now, the best advice is to avoid smoking, the major risk factor that you can change. Tobacco use also increases the risk of many other cancers such as cancers of the lung, mouth, larynx (voice box), esophagus, kidney, bladder, and some other organs.

Staying at a healthy weight, eating well, and exercising are also important.
  • If you smoke, stop smoking.
  • Eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Exercise regularly.
Click HERE for more information on pancreatic cancer from the Amercian Cancer Society.

To supplement your dietary intake of antioxidants A, C, E & Selenium

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