A Healthy Diet May Reduce Pancreatic Cancer Risk

Published Online: Thursday, November 14, 2013
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Adults who comply with the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans may have a decreased risk of developing pancreatic cancer, a new study finds.

The study, published in the September 4, 2013, issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, used the Healthy Eating Index 2005 to analyze the association between a well-balanced diet and pancreatic cancer risk. Using data from food frequency questionnaires completed in 1995 and 1996 by participants of the National Institutes of Health—American Association of Retired Persons Diet and Health Study, the researchers calculated the Healthy Index 2005 scores for 537,218 adults.

After a median follow-up of 10.5 years, 2383 cases of pancreatic cancer were identified. After adjusting for known risk factors, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and diabetes status, participants who were the most adherent to the dietary guidelines had a 15% decreased risk of developing pancreatic cancer compared with those who were the least compliant. The effect of a healthy diet on pancreatic cancer risk was even more pronounced in overweight and obese men (28% reduction in risk) compared with normal-weight men and women.

The authors note that the reduced risk in pancreatic cancer may not be due to diet alone, but may also be due to other healthy behaviors, such as exercise.

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