By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
Pancreatic cancer is sometimes referred to as a silent killer because it rarely causes any symptoms in the initial stages and can be difficult to diagnose.
There are several lifestyle factors that have been associated with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer and these factors can be altered to reduce the risk of developing the condition. However, other factors such as genetic predisposition are non-modifiable risk factors for pancreatic cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, some of the measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer include:
Maintaining a healthy body weight
Obesity and diabetes have been associated with pancreatic cancer and maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce both of these risk factors. Maintaining a healthy body weight involves sticking to a healthy diet as well as engaging in regular physical activity.
Eating a healthy diet
The diet should include plenty of fruits, vegetables, and wholegrains. The consumption of red meat has been associated with pancreatic cancer as well as other forms of cancer and people are advised to limit their consumption of red meats. Alternative, healthier sources of protein include beans, poultry and fish.
Vitamin B intake
Studies have shown that vitamins B12, B6, and folate reduce the risk of several cancers including pancreatic cancer, although the research suggests that this beneficial effect is only observed if the nutrients are obtained from food rather than from vitamin supplements.
The risk of developing pancreatic cancer is at least doubled among smokers and about 20% to 30% of excorine pancreatic tumors are thought to be caused by smoking. Quitting smoking is one of the most important measures a person can take to reduce their risk of pancreatic cancer.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc