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Increase in Antioxidants Can Decrease the Risk of Pancreatic Cancer

| Date Posted: 8/13/2012 | Author: Mandy McCue

Pancreatic Cancer has been in the news a lot lately due to first woman astronaut, Sally Ride’s, death.  She was one of the reported 37,000 people who have died from pancreatic cancer this year. Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths, according to the National Cancer Institute.  The reason why there is a high death rate is because the symptoms are difficult to recognize; therefore when it is detected it has reached advanced stages.  Some symptoms of pancreatic cancer include:

  • upper abdominal pain
  • loss of appetite
  • depression
  • weight loss
  • jaundice
  • digestive problems
  • gallbladder enlargement
  • blood clots

Like most cancers the best way to reduce your risk is by not smoking and maintaining healthy exercise and diet habits. In addition, new research shows that if you add more antioxidants into your diet it could help further reduce the risk. Antioxidants, according to the National Cancer Institute, are substances that may protect cells from the damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals. Free radical damage is what could lead to cancer. The antioxidants interact with the free radicals and stabilize them which helps prevent any damage they may otherwise cause. Examples of antioxidants include

  • Beta-carotene: Apricots, asparagus, beets, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, corn, green peppers, kale, mangoes, nectarines, peaches, pink grapefruit, pumpkin, squash, spinach, sweet potato, tangerines, tomatoes, and watermelon.
  • Vitamin C: Berries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit, honeydew, kale, kiwi, mangoes, nectarines, oranges, papaya, red, green and yellow peppers, snow peas, sweet potatoes, strawberries and tomatoes.
  • Vitamin E: Broccoli, carrots, chard, mustard and turnip greens, mangoes, nuts, papaya, pumpkin, red peppers, spinach, and sunflower seeds
  • Selenium: Found in Brazil nuts, tuna, beef, poultry, and fortified breads and other grain products.

Other super foods rich in antioxidants include prunes, apples, raisins, all berries, plums, red grapes, alfalfa sprouts, onions, eggplant, and beans.  (Antioxidant information provided by WebMD, USDA, MedicineNet, Oregon State University Micronutrient Information Center, National Institutes of Health, and other various sources)

This study, conducted by Dr. Andrew Hart of the University of East Angila began in 1993. He tracked 23,500 people aged 40 to 74. Participants had to keep a detailed food diary for seven days. The participants were then broken up into four groups ranging from lowest to highest intake of antioxidants. After 10 years, 49 participants had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and by 2010, 86 participants had been diagnosed.

The researchers found that the people with the highest intake of selenium were half as likely to develop pancreatic cancer as those with the lowest intake. Those who consumed the highest dietary intake of selenium plus vitamins C and E were 67 percent less likely to develop pancreatic cancer compared to those with the lowest intake. This study was published online July 23 in the journalGut.

*The study can only suggest an association, not a cause-and-effect relationship*

If you or someone you know has pancreatic cancer or symptoms of pancreatic cancer, call (910) 715-3500. FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital’s FirstHealth Cancer Services offers various treatments and support for pancreatic cancer patients and survivors in the Pinehurst, Sanford, Raeford, Laurinburg, Lumberton, Troy and Rockingham regions of NC and beyond.

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