Pancreatic cancer is a type of cancer that affects the pancreas, an organ located in the abdomen that produces hormones and enzymes that aid in digestion.
It is the sixth leading cause of cancer death, with a low survival rate due to late diagnosis and a lack of effective treatment options.
While the exact causes of pancreatic cancer are not well understood, research has identified several risk factors including diet.
In recent years, researchers have investigated the potential impact of the Mediterranean Diet (MedDiet) on the risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
The MedDiet is a dietary pattern that is based on the traditional eating habits of Mediterranean countries and is characterized by high consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains, fish, and olive oil, and low consumption of red meat, processed foods, and sweets.
To better understand the potential link between MedDiet and pancreatic cancer risk, a team of researchers conducted a systematic review with meta-analysis.
They searched three major medical databases for studies that evaluated the relationship between adherence to MedDiet and the incidence of pancreatic cancer.
Their analysis included eight studies with a total of over 1.3 million participants.
The studies used a variety of methods to assess adherence to the MedDiet and the incidence of pancreatic cancer, but the majority showed a significant association between higher adherence to the MedDiet and a lower risk of pancreatic cancer.
The researchers found that higher adherence to the MedDiet was associated with an 18% lower risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
This association was confirmed in sensitivity and subgroup analyses, which controlled for potentially confounding variables such as sex, country of origin, and type of dietary assessment tool used.
These findings suggest that promoting a higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet may be an effective approach to reducing the risk of pancreatic cancer.
However, further research is needed to better understand the mechanisms underlying this association and to determine the optimal dietary patterns for reducing the risk of pancreatic cancer.
In the meantime, individuals can incorporate more MedDiet-friendly foods into their diets, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains, and limit consumption of red meat, processed foods, and sweets.
By adopting a healthier dietary pattern, individuals may be able to reduce their risk of pancreatic cancer and other chronic diseases.
How to prevent pancreatic cancer
There is no guaranteed way to prevent pancreatic cancer, but there are some things you can do to reduce your risk:
Maintain a healthy weight: Obesity is a risk factor for pancreatic cancer, so it’s important to maintain a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise.
Quit smoking: Smoking is a major risk factor for pancreatic cancer. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do to reduce your risk.
Limit alcohol consumption: Heavy drinking has been linked to an increased risk of pancreatic cancer. It’s recommended that men consume no more than two drinks per day and women consume no more than one drink per day.
Eat a healthy diet: A diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and low in red and processed meats and saturated fats, may help reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer.
Manage diabetes: People with diabetes have an increased risk of pancreatic cancer, so it’s important to manage diabetes through a healthy diet, exercise, and medication if necessary.
Get regular check-ups: If you have a family history of pancreatic cancer or other risk factors, talk to your doctor about getting regular check-ups and screenings to catch any potential problems early.
The research is published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health and was conducted by Daniele Nucci et al.
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