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Saturday, October 22, 2005 

Pancreatic Cancer & Vegetables

Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth
and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.
[Genesis 1:29]

Proteins, carbohydrates, and fats are the basic constituents of food and before our body can use them they have to be digested. Aside from producing insulin, the pancreas plays a major role in digestion. It makes pancreatic juices that contain various enzymes that digest food.

Many diseases, the most popular being diabetes, are associated with the pancreas, and so is pancreatic cancer.

An estimated 31,800 Americans (15,820 men and 15,980 women) will die of pancreatic cancer in 2005, making this type of cancer the fourth leading cause of cancer death overall.

Genetics, pancreatitis, and smoking are among the suspected causes of pancreatic cancer. Because of the largely untreatable nature and poor survival rate of patients with pancreatic cancer -

Only about 23% of patients with cancer of the exocrine pancreas will be alive 1 year after their diagnosis; only about 4% will live 5 years after diagnosis. Even for those people diagnosed with local disease (has not spread to other organs), the 5-year relative survival rate is only 15%. [ACS Statistics on Pancreatic Cancer]

- efforts to find ways to prevent its occurrence are being made. A study made by the University of California, San Francisco showed that vegetables could reduce the risk pancreatic cancer by up to 50%!

Researchers conducted a case-control study that compared the diets of 532 pancreatic cancer patients with that of 1,700 randomly selected cancer-free participants in a control group reflecting a similar age and gender range. After interviewing participants about their diet in the year preceding the interview, researchers found that those who reported eating at least five servings a day of certain vegetables or vegetables and fruit combined had a 50% lower risk of pancreatic cancer compared with those who ate two servings per day or less. (An example of one serving is one half-cup of cooked vegetables or two cups of leafy salad.)

Most beneficial were yellow vegetables - such as carrots, sweet potatoes and corn - as well as beans, garlic, onions and leafy and cruciferous vegetables. Researchers say that preparation might affect the results as well, with raw vegetables providing greater benefit than cooked or fried vegetables. [TIME Daily Rx Sept 16, 2005]

Before you make conclusions, I would like to point you to a post in Parallel Universes by Dr. Emer about studies concerning Diet & Cancer:

Yet despite the often adamant advice, scientists say they really do not know whether dietary changes will make a difference. And there lies a quandary for today's medicine. It is turning out to be much more difficult than anyone expected to discover if diet affects cancer risk. Hypotheses abound, but convincing evidence remains elusive. [Diet & Cancer @ Parallel Universes]

Despite the lack of certainty I believe that there is no harm in increasing one's diet with vegetables. Most of the evidence, although inconclusive, show that the benefits are many.

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