A high fat diet, particularly one which includes lots of meat and dairy products - is associated with increasing the risk of developing pancreatic cancer, especially in men, according to a new study by the National Institutes of Health.
The study, reported in the Journal of the National cancer Institute showed that people who had a diet high in meat and dairy fats were more likely to develop the cancer than those who did not.
Thiébaut ACM, et al. Dietary fatty acids and pancreatic cancer in the NIH-AARP diet and health Study. Journal of the National cancer Institute Advance Access published online on June 26, 2009.
Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadliest forms of cancer and just one in seven patients live for more than a year after diagnosis.
Previous studies have been divided on whether diet, and especially high levels of fat, can increase the likelihood of developing the disease, but this new study which followed the eating habits of more than 500,000 people, provides strong evidence of a link.
Scientists found that men who ate a high-fat diet rich in animal products such as meat and cheese, were 53 per cent more likely to develop the potentially fatal disease over six years. Women were less at risk, although a high-fat diet did increase their chances by 23 per cent.
Some experts believe that high intake of fat may cause a burden on the pancreas which needs to produce high levels of enzymes to help digest fats.
Early studies have found an association between sugary drinks and increased risk of pancreatic cancer. High levels of blood sugar also require the gland to excrete enzymes to help metabolize sugar.
According to another study presented on April 19 at the 96th Annual Meeting of the American Association for cancer Research, eating a lot of processed meats was linked to increasing the risk of pancreatic cancer.
In that study, researchers investigated the dietary information and pancreatic cancer death rate among 190,545 men and women of various ethnic origins and during a 7-year follow-up, 482 cases of pancreatic cancer were recorded.
Those who consumed the highest amounts of processed meats, including all types, were 67 percent more likely to acquire pancreatic cancer compared with those who used the lowest amounts.
On the contrary, a study published in the September, 2005, issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention reported that five or more servings of vegetables a day could cut the risk of pancreatic cancer by 50 percent.
Previous studies have suggested that eating two portions of red or processed meat a day increased the chance of developing bowel cancer by as much as a third.
These studies provide further evidence that a diet high in meat, especially processed meat, is damaging and detrimental for health. A lot of meat is also contaminated with growth hormones and antibiotics, which is another reason to restrict your intake of it.