Diet rich in vegetables may help stave off acute pancreatitis

June 27, 2012

A diet rich in vegetables could help stave off the development of the serious condition acute pancreatitis, suggests a large study published online in the journal Gut.

Pancreatitis refers to inflammation of the - the gland behind the stomach, which, among other things, releases to break down food. Occasionally these enzymes become active inside the pancreas, and start to digest the gland itself. In up to one in five of those with symptoms are severe and potentially life threatening.

Previous research suggests that excessive production of , which are by-products of , is associated with acute pancreatitis. Furthermore, levels of , which mop up free radicals, are increased during an attack. The authors therefore wanted to know if an imbalance in antioxidant levels, associated with dietary factors, might make the pancreas more sensitive to the effects of free radicals and so increase the risk of acute pancreatitis.

They tracked the health of a population-based sample of 80,000 adults living in central Sweden for an average of 11 years, following the completion of a comprehensive dietary questionnaire in 1997 on how often they had eaten from a range of 96 over the preceding year.

Average vegetable and fruit consumption was around 2.5 and just under 2 servings, respectively, every day. In general, those who ate the fewest daily servings of vegetables were men, , and those who had not gone on to higher education.

A similar profile was seen for , although people in this group were more likely to drink alcohol and to have diabetes.

During the monitoring period, 320 people developed acute pancreatitis that was not associated with the complications of - a relatively common cause of the condition.

The amount of fruit consumed did not seem to influence the risk of developing acute pancreatitis, but this was not the case for vegetables.

After taking account of factors likely to influence the results, the analysis showed that those who ate the most vegetables - more than 4 servings a day - were 44% less likely to develop acute pancreatitis than were those who ate the least - less than 1 serving a day.

The protection afforded by a diet rich in vegetables seemed to be the strongest among those who consumed more than one drink of alcohol a day and those who were overweight (BMI of 25 or more).

The risk of developing the condition fell by 71% among drinkers and by 51% among those who were overweight, when comparing those in the highest with those in the lowest, category of vegetable consumption.

The most likely explanation for the protective effect of vegetables is the high level of antioxidants they contain, say the authors.

The reason why fruit (which also contains high levels of antioxidants) did not seem to affect the risk of acute pancreatitis may lie in its fructose content, which might counter the effects of antioxidants say the authors. Previous research has linked fructose to free radical production.

If their findings are confirmed by other research, the authors suggest that boosting dietary intake of vegetables may help to stave off the development of acute pancreatitis that is unrelated to gallstones.

Explore further: Drinking just 1 measure of spirits increases the risk of acute pancreatitis

Related Stories

Drinking just 1 measure of spirits increases the risk of acute pancreatitis

August 4, 2011
Drinking just one 4cl measure of spirits can increase the risk of an acute attack of pancreatitis, but wine or beer does not appear to have the same effect, according to a study published online by BJS, the British Journal ...

Dendritic cells protect against acute pancreatitis

November 22, 2011
NYU Langone Medical Center researchers have discovered the novel protective role dendritic cells play in the pancreas. The new study, published in the November issue of journal Gastroenterology, shows dendritic cells can ...

Scientists identify possible drug target for acute pancreatitis

May 31, 2012
Scientists from the Universities of Illinois and California have found that the inflammatory protein interleukin-6 (IL-6) plays a pivotal role in the duration of acute pancreatitis in animal models with this condition. Their ...

Unsaturated fat breakdown leads to complications of acute pancreatitis in obese patients

November 2, 2011
The toxic byproducts produced by the breakdown of unsaturated fats lead to a higher likelihood of severe inflammation, cell death and multi-system organ failure among acute pancreatitis patients who are obese, say researchers ...

Recommended for you

Google searches can be used to track dengue in underdeveloped countries

July 20, 2017
An analytical tool that combines Google search data with government-provided clinical data can quickly and accurately track dengue fever in less-developed countries, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

MRSA emerged years before methicillin was even discovered

July 19, 2017
Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) emerged long before the introduction of the antibiotic methicillin into clinical practice, according to a study published in the open access journal Genome Biology. It was ...

New test distinguishes Zika from similar viral infections

July 18, 2017
A new test is the best-to-date in differentiating Zika virus infections from infections caused by similar viruses. The antibody-based assay, developed by researchers at UC Berkeley and Humabs BioMed, a private biotechnology ...

'Superbugs' study reveals complex picture of E. coli bloodstream infections

July 18, 2017
The first large-scale genetic study of Escherichia coli (E. coli) cultured from patients with bloodstream infections in England showed that drug resistant 'superbugs' are not always out-competing other strains. Research by ...

Ebola virus can persist in monkeys that survived disease, even after symptoms disappear

July 17, 2017
Ebola virus infection can be detected in rhesus monkeys that survive the disease and no longer show symptoms, according to research published by Army scientists in today's online edition of the journal Nature Microbiology. ...

Mountain gorillas have herpes virus similar to that found in humans

July 13, 2017
Scientists from the University of California, Davis, have detected a herpes virus in wild mountain gorillas that is very similar to the Epstein-Barr virus in humans, according to a study published today in the journal Scientific ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.