Pancreatic cancer is NOT, however, treatable except in a very small number of cases. As we have seen with Steve Jobs (who had a less common form of pancreatic cancer) as well as Patrick Swayze, all the resources in the world will not help with this devastating form of cancer. Which makes prevention the ONLY answer.
The good news is that pancreatic cancer is heavily preventable. Two of the strongest factors in our risk of developing pancreatic cancer are a history of pancreatitis and a pro-diabetic lifestyle.
We will not go into pancreatitis in this post, with the small exception of suggesting that anyone who has or has had pancreatitis look into the use of high dose pancreatic enzymes.
So that brings us to the very powerful links between pro-diabetic lifestyles and pancreatic cancer. High intakes of fruits and vegetables will always help to lower the risk of cancer. Greater intakes of omega 3 fatty acids and reduced intakes of omega 6 fatty acids will help. Optimal levels of vitamin D may play a role.
In this particular study, researchers looked at how much having diabetes increased the risk of pancreatic cancer. The results were pretty startling. In the first 2 years of a diabetic diagnosis, the risk of developing pancreatic cancer was 759% higher–yes 759%. For a newly diagnosed diabetic who also has chronic pancreatitis, the doom is nearly sealed at 3,352% increased risk.
“Yeah–but I’m not diabetic” you say, thinking you’ve dodged a bullet. Remember that the progression to diabetes is a decades long process, and just being on this path is extremely dangerous to your health and your risk of pancreatic cancer. This means that anyone carrying extra weight around the middle, women with menstrual problems, people with elevated cholesterol or triglyceride levels, people with elevated blood pressure…this list catches well over half the population.
I am certain that groups will jump on the untimely loss of Steve Jobs as an opportunity to begin fundraising for a “cure” for pancreatic cancer. We should instead use this as an opportunity to educate the public on how preventable this cancer is.