About The Buzz: Eating Fruits and Vegetables Can Reduce Pancreatic Cancer Risk?
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Consuming fruits and vegetables can reduce risk of developing pancreatic cancer by 27%.1
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
The pancreas is an important organ located deep within the abdomen. The pancreas has two main responsibilities: firstly, the pancreas plays a critical role in helping the body convert the food we eat into energy and secondly, the pancreas regulates blood sugar. You may familiar with the importance of the pancreas if you or someone you know has diabetes. Type 1 diabetes results when the pancreas is not able to produce insulin, a hormone essential in regulating blood sugar, and type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas is isn’t able to use insulin correctly.2
Pancreatic tumors are not easily detected because of the deep location of the pancreas, making cancer detection challenging. Pancreatic cancer is not usually discovered until a tumor has grown large enough to disrupt the normal functioning of the pancreas or other organs in the abdomen, such as the stomach, gallbladder or liver.3 The symptoms of pancreatic cancer are varied, as there are two categories of pancreatic cancer: exocrine pancreatic cancers and pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (NETs).3
Individuals with any of the following risk factors have an elevated risk of developing pancreatic cancer: a history of pancreatic cancer, certain genetic syndromes, gender (men are more likely than women to develop pancreatic cancer), age (ages 55 years and older), diabetes, chronic pancreatitis, cirrhosis of the liver or H. pylori infection.4 Currently, healthcare providers do not recommend routine screening in individuals who are at average risk. Individuals with any of the above risk factors should discuss screening with their healthcare provider to determine the appropriate age and frequency of screening.4
WHY THIS MATTERS
Early detection of pancreatic cancer early is essential, as the 5-year survival rate is less than 5%.1 Like most illnesses and diseases, some risk factors are modifiable and others are not. Even more important than early detection is the successful prevention of pancreatic cancer.
Recent research, published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, summarized all studies to date that have analyzed the relationship between fruit and vegetable intake and pancreatic cancer risk. To do so, researchers collected all relevant peer-reviewed research articles on the topic. In total, 24 publications were selected that included 8,217 participants with pancreatic cancer and 1,725,332 participants without pancreatic cancer. The majority of the studies were conducted in Japan, the United States or Europe.
RESULTS OF THE RESEARCH
The main strengths of this review include the large number of participants and the type of studies included in the review, which lasted for many years and allowed researchers to better understand how a disease develops. Findings from the review demonstrate that higher intake of fruits and vegetables was significantly associated with a reduced risk of pancreatic cancer – individuals with higher intake had a 27% reduced risk overall compared to those with the lowest intake. Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, which contain cancer-fighting properties that help to reduce inflammation and lower the risk of cancer. Additionally, researchers speculate that the fiber and folate found in fruits and veggies help to regulate insulin metabolism, lower inflammation and disrupt cancer DNA. Finally, a high fruit and veggie intake helps reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity, known risk factors for pancreatic cancer.
Eat more fruits and veggies each and every day. If you’re not sure where to start, try to fill half your plate with fruits and veggies during each meal and snack. If you’re stuck in the groove of making the same recipes, check out our Fruit & Veggie Recipe Database for inspiration. Also, remember that every form of fruit and veggie counts and that the more color you can add to your plate, the better! By consuming a rainbow of colors, you’re supplying your body with the key nutrients needed to stay healthy and fight off illnesses and disease.
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