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

One in five young colon cancer patients have genetic link

December 13, 2017
As doctors grapple with increasing rates of colorectal cancers in young people, new research from the University of Michigan may offer some insight into how the disease developed and how to prevent further cancers. Researchers ...

New strategy for unleashing cancer-fighting power of p53 gene

December 13, 2017
Tumor protein p53 is one of the most critical determinants of the fate of cancer cells, as it can determine whether a cell lives or dies in response to stress. In a new study published today in the journal Nature Communications, ...

Researchers develop test that can diagnose two cancer types

December 12, 2017
A blood test using infrared spectroscopy can be used to diagnose two types of cancer, lymphoma and melanoma, according to a study led by Georgia State University.

Cancer-causing mutation suppresses immune system around tumours

December 12, 2017
Mutations in 'Ras' genes, which drive 25% of human cancers by causing tumour cells to grow, multiply and spread, can also protect cancer cells from the immune system, finds a new study from the Francis Crick Institute and ...

Atoh1, a potential Achilles' heel of Sonic Hedgehog medulloblastoma

December 12, 2017
Medulloblastoma is the most common type of solid brain tumor in children. Current treatments offer limited success and may leave patients with severe neurological side effects, including psychiatric disorders, growth retardation ...

MRI scans predict patients' ability to fight the spread of cancer

December 12, 2017
A simple, non-invasive procedure that can indicate how long patients with cancer that has spread to the brain might survive and whether they are likely to respond to immunotherapy has been developed by researchers in Liverpool.

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.