Pancreatic Cancer is Deadly -- So Cut Your Risk By 25 Percent

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October 20, 2007 | 85,940 views

An eight-year long multi-ethnic study from the German Institute of Human Nutrition indicates that a diet rich in flavonols may slash your risk of developing pancreatic cancer by about 25 percent. 

For smokers, your risk reduction is even more pronounced, lowering your risk by more than 59 percent. 

The researchers also stated that this is the first study to examine specific classes of flavonols and their impact on pancreatic cancer risk reduction. The three types of flavonols covered were: 

Type of Flavonol:

Food Source:


Onions, apples


Spinach, cabbage


Red onions, berries

Of the three individual flavonols, kaempferol provided the largest amount of risk reduction – 22 percent – across all participants.

American Journal of Epidemiology October 15, 2007; 166(8):924-31 October 1, 2007

Pancreatic cancer is a devastatingly fatal form of cancer, and is typically regarded as the most deadly and universally rapid-killing form of cancer. According to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, close to 38,000 new cases of pancreatic cancer are diagnosed each year in the U.S., and of those, some 34,000 die from their disease. That’s a radical fatality rate.

Part of the problem is that this cancer is usually diagnosed quite late, contributing to the horrid fact that only one in every 50 pancreatic cancer patients will be alive five years later. It also shows you just how ineffective conventional treatment is.

With statistics like that, the importance of prevention cannot be downplayed, and your diet is your most logical place to start.

What Causes Pancreatic Cancer?

Three lifestyle issues keep popping up on the radar when you look at what’s contributing to pancreatic cancer:

Obesity and physical inactivity makes your body less sensitive to the glucose-lowering effects of insulin. Diminished sensitivity to insulin leads to higher blood levels of insulin, which in turn can increase your risk of pancreatic cancer.

One previous study found that men and women with high Body Mass Index (BMI) faced a pancreatic cancer risk 1.5 to 2 times higher than those with low BMI. And for women who are both overweight and sedentary, your risk is 2.5 times higher.

When they reduced their weight and exercised, they lowered their risk. In fact, the men who exercised strenuously at least 8 hours a month were found to have only 59% of the pancreatic cancer risk of men who exercised less.

And, when we talk about sugar, don’t forget about your carbohydrates! A diet high in white bread, white rice, and potatoes also puts you at much higher risk of pancreatic cancer -- especially if you are overweight and don't exercise enough.

Insulin seems to be one of the main drivers for cancer in general, and for pancreatic cancer in particular.


Because insulin production is one of your pancreas' main functions, used by your body to process blood sugar, and, in the laboratory, insulin actually promotes the growth of pancreatic cancer cells. Researchers suspect that if your body maintains high levels of insulin, you increase the pancreatic cancer's ability to survive and grow.

In fact, researchers now believe that up to a third of all cancers may be caused by diet and lifestyle. So if you want to prevent cancer, or want to treat cancer, it is imperative that you keep your insulin levels as low as possible.

How to Prevent Pancreatic Cancer

Two of the most effective ways of maintaining low insulin levels is by:

And, based on the above information about flavonols’ cancer-busting capacity, making sure to add plenty of antioxidant-rich foods in your diet is a no-brainer. Just select the foods that are good for your nutritional type.

Additionally, vitamin D has been found to cut your pancreatic cancer risk nearly in half as well. So make sure you get plenty of regular exposure to sunlight!

In addition to eating a varied diet, tailor-made to your individual biochemistry, and getting out into the sun on a daily basis, I’d like to remind you to look at the sources of your whole foods as well. To optimize your entire diet, and hence, your overall health – including reducing your risk of cancer – you’ll want to make sure you’re getting: