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New Report: One in Five Cases of Pancreatic Cancer Doesn’t Have to Happen

Pancreas In Situ Xray Image Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly forms of cancer. Usually diagnosed in the advanced stages, it claims the lives of 9 out of 10 patients within five years’ time.

A report from AICR and the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) released today now finds clear and convincing evidence that many cases of pancreatic cancer can be prevented. The latest summary report from the AICR/WCRF Continuous Update Project (CUP), the largest cancer prevention research project in the world, shows that being at a healthy weight and avoiding extra belly fat can prevent roughly 1 in 5 (19 percent) cases of pancreatic cancer. That’s equivalent to 23 cases a day, and approximately 8,300 cases every year, that never have to happen.

In comparison, tobacco use, the number one risk factor for pancreatic cancer, is responsible for 1 out of every 4 cases of the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.

What’s the Link?

Fat tissue produces cytokines (proteins) that cause inflammation, which can promote cancerous changes in healthy cells. Being overweight and obese also increases blood levels of insulin and related hormones that can encourage the growth of cancer.

This is why, in addition to pancreatic cancer, carrying excess body fat has been shown to increase risk for cancers of the breast, colon, esophagus, kidney, endometrium and gall bladder, not to mention type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Excess abdominal fat, independent of weight, is linked to increased risk of cancers of the colorectum, breast (post-menopausal), and endometrium.

Rates Are Rising

In the US, pancreatic cancer is on the rise. A September 2012 report from the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network estimates that incidence of pancreatic cancer will more than double by 2030, and that within this decade the number of pancreatic cancer deaths per year will exceed those of breast and colorectal cancer.

The pancreas is a gland located behind the stomach that produces digestive juices as well as insulin and other hormones.

The Bottom Line

Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most important things you can do to prevent this deadly disease. Avoiding tobacco use is another. If you smoke, stop now. If you don’t, never start.

More About the CUP

In examining research on pancreatic cancer, the CUP team at Imperial College London identified the 79 relevant studies relating to pancreatic cancer, diet and lifestyle published since 2006. This was added to the 129 papers included in the AICR/WCRF 2007 Second Expert Report. An independent panel of expert scientists – the CUP panel – then analyzed all the research to reach a conclusion.

The CUP is the world’s largest central resource for scientific evidence on diet, physical activity, body weight and cancer. To date, the CUP has added more than 2,600 papers on eight cancers – breast, prostate, colon, pancreatic, endometrial, ovarian, bladder and kidney – and is in the early stages of reviewing new research on breast cancer survivors.

The CUP panel judges the research findings as each cancer type is updated and makes conclusions to give people advice on reducing their cancer risk.


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