Pancreatic Cancer on the Rise….Why?
In browsing through the health section of the News & Observer recently, (July 30, 2018) I came across a very informative article by Jane E. Brody about pancreatic cancer.
Long considered rare, pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest because symptoms almost never develop until the disease is advanced and incurable, is on track to become the second most deadly cancer by 2030 (presently the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in this country). Grim facts.
Its leading risk factor, cigarette smoking, (20 to 25% responsible), has actually been declining for decades; however, pancreatic cancer is rising and researchers are examining why in the efforts to prevent and detect it while still curable. So what are the risk factors associated with this cancer?
- Older age
- Being an African-American or Ashkenazi Jew
- Having 2 or more first-degree relatives (parents or siblings) who have had the cancer
These are all beyond an individual’s control of course. However, the following are lifestyle issues, which have risen to epidemic levels in recent years, that can actually make a difference:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Metabolic syndrome
Donghui Li, a molecular epidemiologist at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, states, “The higher the BMI the greater the risk of pancreatic cancer,” referring to body mass index. “Obesity contributes to both the onset and progression of this cancer.”
She also found that cancer risk was greater the earlier in life a person becomes obese, and survival time was shorter among those who were still obese when the cancer was diagnosed.
One interesting fact from this article ~ diabetes is both a cause and consequence of cancer ~ although it is still not completely clear which comes first ~ diabetes or cancer in the organ that controls blood glucose. Studies at the Mayo Clinic have actually found that elevated glucose levels, a condition called pre-diabetes, were detected in some patients two years before pancreatic cancer was diagnosed (making diabetes a symptom of hidden cancer called 3C, caused by a diseased or damaged pancreas).
Doctors look at this window of opportunity to perhaps spot cancer when it may be still curable. Meanwhile, it certainly could be the motivation to maintain a healthy weight, and not prompt the pancreas to produce more and more insulin (a factor of diabetes). And we all know that obesity is the leading risk factor for the development of Type 2 Diabetes.
I offer an interesting e-book on the subject of weight loss entitled “7 Big Secrets To Losing Weight” Go here to check it out. It is a great tool in our “toolbox” to practice prevention and stay healthy.