High dietary antioxidant intake might cut pancreatic cancer risk

July 23, 2012

Increasing dietary intake of the antioxidant vitamins C, E, and selenium could help cut the risk of developing pancreatic cancer by up to two thirds, suggests research published online in the journal Gut.

If the association turns out to be causal, one in 12 of these cancers might be prevented, suggest the researchers, who are leading the Norfolk arm of the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer (EPIC) study.

Cancer of the kills more than a quarter of a million people every year around the world. And 7500 people are diagnosed with the disease every year in the UK, where it is the six commonest cause of .

The disease has the worst of any cancer, with just 3% of people surviving beyond five years. , smoking, and are all , but diet is also thought to have a role, and may explain why rates vary so much from country to country, say the authors.

The researchers tracked the health of more than 23,500 40 to 74 year olds, who had entered the Norfolk arm of the EPIC study between 1993 and 1997.

Each participant filled in a comprehensive food diary, detailing the types and amount of every food they ate for 7 days, as well as the methods they used to prepare it.

Each entry in the food diary was matched to one of 11,000 , and the nutrient values calculated using a specially designed computer programme (DINER).

Forty nine people (55% men) developed pancreatic cancer within 10 years of entering the study. This increased to 86 (44% men) by 2010. On average, they survived 6 months after diagnosis.

The nutrient intakes of those diagnosed with the disease within 10 years of entering EPIC were compared with those of almost 4000 healthy people to see if there were any differences.

The analysis showed that a weekly intake of in the top 25% of consumption roughly halved their risk of developing pancreatic cancer compared with those whose intake was in the bottom 25%.

And those whose vitamins C, E, and selenium intake was in the top 25% of consumption were 67% less likely to develop pancreatic cancer than those who were in the bottom 25%.

If the link turns out to be causal, that would add up to the prevention of more than one in 12 (8%) of pancreatic cancers, calculate the authors.

Antioxidants may neutralise the harmful by-products of metabolism and normal cell activity—free radicals—and curb genetically programmed influences, as well as stimulating the immune system response, explain the authors.

Other trials using antioxidant supplements have not produced such encouraging results, but this may be because food sources of these nutrients may behave differently from those found in supplements, they say.

"If a causal association is confirmed by reporting consistent findings from other epidemiological studies, then population based dietary recommendations may help to prevent pancreatic cancer," they conclude.

Explore further: High bodily levels of nickel and selenium may lower pancreatic cancer risk

More information: Dietary antioxidants and the aetiology of pancreatic cancer: a cohort study using data from food diaries and biomarkers, Banim PJR, Luben R, McTaggart A, et al. Gut (2012). doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2011-301908

Related Stories

High bodily levels of nickel and selenium may lower pancreatic cancer risk

December 20, 2011
High bodily levels of the trace elements nickel and selenium may lower the risk of developing the most common type of pancreatic cancer, finds research published online in Gut.

Processed meat may increase pancreatic cancer risk

January 13, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Eating too much processed meat may increases the risk of pancreatic cancer, according to new research published in the British Journal of Cancer.

Recommended for you

Researchers target undruggable cancers

October 19, 2017
A new approach to targeting key cancer-linked proteins, thought to be 'undruggable," has been discovered through an alliance between industry and academia.

Mutant gene found to fuel cancer-promoting effects of inflammation

October 19, 2017
A human gene called p53, which is commonly known as the "guardian of the genome," is widely known to combat the formation and progression of tumors. Yet, mutant forms of p53 have been linked to more cases of human cancer ...

New study reveals breast cancer cells recycle their own ammonia waste as fuel

October 19, 2017
Breast cancer cells recycle ammonia, a waste byproduct of cell metabolism, and use it as a source of nitrogen to fuel tumor growth, report scientists from Harvard Medical School in the journal Science.

Breast cancer researchers find bacteria imbalance link

October 19, 2017
Researchers in the United States have uncovered differences in the bacterial composition of breast tissue of healthy women versus those with breast cancer.

US regulators approve 2nd gene therapy for blood cancer

October 19, 2017
U.S. regulators on Wednesday approved a second gene therapy for a blood cancer, a one-time, custom-made treatment for aggressive lymphoma in adults.

New findings explain how UV rays trigger skin cancer

October 18, 2017
Melanoma, a cancer of skin pigment cells called melanocytes, will strike an estimated 87,110 people in the U.S. in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A fraction of those melanomas come from ...

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.