Numerous studies have tried to identify which foods, if any, contribute to developing pancreatic cancer. The results don't allow any firm conclusions:
- A typical American diet, high in fat and smoked or other processed meats, has been associated with pancreatic cancer in some but not all studies.
- A healthy diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables seemed to protect against pancreatic cancer in some but not all studies.
- In experiments, lab rats fed a high-protein, high-fat diet were consistently found to develop pancreatic cancer. However, laboratory data doesn't necessarily apply to people.
No diet has been reliably proven to change your risk for pancreatic cancer. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables, with lean meats in moderation, is the best diet for overall health.
While this pre-face for the post in the Pancreatic Cancer Category does not leave much space for positive recommendations, we still consider diet as one of the manageable input factors allowing reducing (even slightly) the risk of the “silent killer” development. For those, who has substantial genetic predisposition, every tiny step to lower the risk may be decisive.
For example, a small study just published in the British medical journal Gut in 2012 found that eating a diet high in the antioxidants vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium was associated with a decreased risk of pancreatic cancer. The study looked at the eating habits of more than 23,000 adults over 40 and found that those whose consumption of vitamin C, E and selenium (as food, not as supplements) was in the top 25% were 67% less likely to develop pancreatic cancer than those whose consumption was in the bottom 25%.
The researchers were quick to point out that this correlation does not equal causation—meaning that other factors could account for the antioxidant-eaters' reduced risk. But, of course, since foods containing these nutrients are generally healthy in many other ways, take "possible pancreatic cancer prevention" as yet another incentive to eat well.
Researchers analyzed the seven-day food diaries of more than 23,500 people aged 40 to 74. Forty-nine people developed pancreatic cancer within 10 years of entering the study. Researchers then compared diets among people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer to those of nearly 4,000 people without pancreatic cancer.
People who ate more selenium were 50% less likely to develop pancreatic cancer compared to those who ate the least amounts of selenium-rich foods. And those whose vitamin C, E, and selenium intake was in the top 75% were 67% less likely to develop pancreatic cancer than those who ate the lowest amount of foods rich in this trio of antioxidants.
Researchers only looked at foods rich in these nutrients, not individual supplements. Vitamin C is found in fruits and vegetables such as:
- citrus fruits
- red berries
- red and green bell peppers
Vitamin E can be found in food such as:
- vegetable oils
- egg yolk
Selenium is a mineral found in soil. Some selenium-rich foods include:
"Diet-wise, we've had a few studies here and there, but no real convincing evidence that any specific food can help to prevent pancreatic cancer, or any specific food may have some specific role in causation," says Maureen Huhmann, DCN, RD, a clinical dietitian at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey.
If people have an interest in pancreatic cancer prevention — perhaps because they have a family member with the disease — she can offer some general advice. "What I do recommend is a diet that has some animal protein — focusing more on chicken and fish, lots of fruits and vegetables and whole grains, and eliminating a lot of the white pasta and white bread. And try to get in different colors of fruits and vegetables," she says.
You may guess what it is about color of fruits and vegetables. The point is that the food color is one of the best indicators of a food’s components and related health benefits. Foods within each color group have properties that target specific cancers. When you eat all the colors, you are working far more disease-combating nutrients and vitamins into your meal.
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