The evidence continues to mount linking an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer with much the same risk factors now linked to a much higher risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Pancreatic cancer is a very deadly cancer killing more than 35,000 Americans each year. Five-year survival is less than 5% for pancreatic cancer whereas only 9% of men and 26% of women will die of prostate and breast cancers 10 years after diagnosis.
Smoking, obesity, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and a diet high in fat, and especially saturated fats, all increase the risk of CVD. A recent study that followed a half million AARP members found after 6 years those consuming the most animal fats from red meats and dairy were much more likely to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The men who consumed the most animal fats had a 53% increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer compared to those who consumed the least after adjusting for body weight, smoking, age, and other risk factors. The authors wrote: “We observed positive associations between pancreatic cancer and intakes of total, saturated and monounsaturated fat overall, particularly from red meat and dairy food sources.” There was no consistent association between polyunsaturated fat from plants and the risk of pancreatic cancer after adjusting for other risk factors.1
An earlier study in Sweden that followed over 75,000 people for 7.2 years and found that consuming more sugar significantly increased the risk of pancreatic cancer. Their results suggested that drinking two soft drinks daily would increase the risk of pancreatic cancer by 93%. People who added sugar to their foods and drinks at least 5 times per day had a 69% increased risk of pancreatic cancer compared to those who did not add sugar to their food.2
Bottom Line: Excess calories, especially from red meat and dairy and/or from sugar appear to promote the development of pancreatic cancer in addition to type 2 diabetes and CVD.
By James J. Kenney, PhD, RD, FACN
1. J Nat Cancer Inst. 2009;101:1001:11
2. Am J Clin Nutr 2006;84:1171-6
Judy’s passion for cooking began with helping her grandmother make raisin oatmeal for breakfast. From there she earned her first food service job at 15, was accepted to the world-famous Culinary Institute of America at 18 (where she graduated second in her class), and went on to the Fachschule Richemont in Switzerland where she focused on pastry arts and baking. After a decade in food service for Hyatt Hotels, Judy launched Food and Health Communications to focus on flavor and health. She graduated with Summa Cum Laude distinction from Johnson and Wales University with a BS in Culinary Art, holds a master’s degree in Food Business from the Culinary Institute of America, 2 art certificates from UC Berkeley Extension, and runs a food photography studio where her love is creating fun recipes.
Judy received The Culinary Institute of America’s Pro Chef II certification, the American Culinary Federation Bronze Medal, Gold Medal, and ACF Chef of the Year. Her enthusiasm for eating nutritiously and deliciously leads her to constantly innovate and use the latest in nutritional science and Dietary Guidelines to guide her creativity, from putting new twists on fajitas to adapting Italian brownies to include ingredients like toasted nuts and cooked honey. Judy’s publishing company, Food and Health Communications, is dedicated to her vision that everyone can make food that tastes as good as it is for you.