Tips to prevent Pancreatic Cancer

By  , Expert Content
Aug 17, 2012

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The pancreas is an organ located deep in the abdomen in front of the spine above the level of the belly button. It is about 6 inches long and has both endocrine and exocrine gland. The exocrine gland secretes enzymes that help in digestion of proteins and the endocrine part of the pancreas secretes insulin and other hormones. Insulin is an important hormone that helps to regulate blood sugar levels.  
Pancreatic cancer is not common, but it is an aggressive disease, which progresses rapidly. The five year survival rate is low for the cancer even when it is localised (16.4%), which decreases to 7.0% for regional cancer and 1.8 % for metastatic cancer.

Risk factors for pancreatic cancer

The exact cause of pancreatic cancer is not known, but certain factors increase the risk of developing this type of cancer. Some factors that increase the risk of pancreatic cancer include:

  • smoking
  • advanced age- the risk increases with age
  • male sex- it is slightly more common in males as compared with females (male-to-female ratio of pancreatic cancer is 1.3:1)
  • chronic pancreatitis (chronic inflammation caused by any factor, such as excessive alcohol intake or gallstones)
  • diabetes mellitus
  • family history of pancreatic cancer
  • race-being African-American
  • being overweight or obese
  • family history of certain genetic syndromes including a BRCA2 gene mutation, Lynch syndrome and familial atypical mole-malignant melanoma (FAMMM).

How to prevent pancreatic cancer

There is no known way in which cancer of the pancreas can be prevented. Some measures that can probably decrease the risk or prevent this cancer include the following.

Quitting Smoking: Smoking does not just increase the risk of lung diseases and lung cancer, but many other diseases including pancreatic cancer. According to studies, the risk of pancreatic cancer is higher among smokers. Heavy smoking increases the risk by approximately two to three times. If you smoke, quit it as soon as possible.

Stop Drinking: As the risk of pancreatic cancer is probably higher in people, who consume excess alcohol, cutting down on the amount of alcohol you drink can decrease your risk of this cancer.

Lose Weight: According to studies, being overweight or obese not only increases the risk of pancreatic cancer but also affects the chance of survival as well if you develop this cancer. Being at a healthy weight does not only decrease the risk of pancreatic cancer, but many other diseases, such as hypertension and coronary artery disease as well.

Prevent Diabetes:
Diabetes, a known risk factor for pancreatic cancer. If you have risk factors for diabetes, such as being overweight, sedentary lifestyle, family history of diabetes, etc, get your blood sugar tested regularly to detect if you have prediabetes. There is no way to prevent diabetes, but you can reduce your risk of developing diabetes by being at a healthy body weight, eating proper diet and exercising regularly. If you have diabetes, take your blood sugar medications as recommended.

Eat healthy diet:  Diet low in saturated fat and rich in whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables can possibly prevent pancreatic cancer.



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