Articles. Join the healthy conversation.

REDUCING PANCREATIC CANCER RISK Print
More Fruit, Veggies, Less Sugar, Red Meat

November 2, 2009

The recent loss of beloved actor Patrick Swayze to pancreatic cancer at age 57 is a sad but compelling prologue to  November’s Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. Swayze lived a year and a half after diagnosis — about three times the six month median survival time. Called the “stealth cancer,” pancreatic cancer accounts for just 2% of new U.S. cancer cases — yet is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths, in part because the cancer is so difficult to detect (tucked behind the small intestine, the pancreas is a small organ which produces insulin and releases enzymes that help aid digestion). As  prevention is key, here are a few things you can do to minimize your risk:

  • Eat more tomatoes, watermelon and guava — all top sources of lycopene, which might help protect the pancreas, according to a University of Montreal study.
  • Eat more canned salmon and sardines — top sources of vitamin D. A study by Northwestern University shows 400 IU of vitamin D daily can cut pancreatic cancer risk by 43%.
  • Eat at least two cups of vegetables a day – yams, carrots, onions and dark leafy greens – to halve your pancreatic cancer risk, according to a study funded by the National Cancer Institute. Other lab research suggests a possible protective benefit from spinach, onions and cabbage, which respectively contain kaempferol, quercetin and myricetin.
  • Load up on beans, artichokes and beets, which are among the top whole-food sources of folate, linked to lower pancreatic cancer risk. Supplements do not have the same benefit.
  • Avoid processed meat and limit red meat, which are linked to a 70% and 53% increased risk respectively. Compounds formed during the cooking process may be more to blame than saturated fat since poultry, dairy and eggs are not associated with increased risk.
  • Avoid sugar-sweetened soda and sugar added to drinks and cereal — which is associated with a 90% increased risk of developing the cancer.
  • Quit smoking! You know cigarettes cause lung cancer, but smokers are also 2 to 3 times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer.

Share Your Thoughts!

What is 16 + 3 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
IMPORTANT! To be able to proceed, you need to solve the following simple math.