A high-fat, high-calorie
diet may increase the risk of deadly pancreatic
cancer, a new animal study suggests.
Researchers found that mice
who became obese by eating high-calorie, high-fat diets developed abnormally
high numbers of lesions known to be precursors to pancreatic cancer.
The study, published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, is the first to show a
direct link in animals between obesity and the risk of pancreatic cancer,
according to the researchers at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Centre at the
University of California, Los Angeles.
However, findings in
animals do not always bear out in human trials and while the study showed an
association, it did not prove a cause-and-effect link between diet and
pancreatic cancer risk.
The researchers did say
that their findings support eating a low-fat, low-calorie diet as a way to
prevent pancreatic cancer.
One of the deadliest cancers
"The development of
these lesions in mice is very similar to what happens in humans," study
leader Dr Guido Eibl said in a UCLA news release. "These lesions take a
long time to develop into cancer, so there is enough time for cancer-preventative
strategies, such as changing to a lower-fat, lower-calorie diet, to have a
The researchers found that
the mice fed the high-calorie, high-fat foods gained significantly more weight
than mice on a lower-fat, lower-calorie regimen. They also had metabolic
abnormalities, increased insulin levels and inflammation of pancreatic tissue.
Pancreatic cancer is one of
the deadliest types of cancers. Overall five-year survival rates for this type
of cancer are 3% to 5%, and the average length of survival after diagnosis is
four to six months.
In many cases, patients
only begin to develop symptoms when pancreatic cancer is in the advanced
stages. There is a lack of effective treatments, so researchers are focusing on
The U.S. National Cancer
Institute has more about pancreatic