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Antioxidant vitamins reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer

Published on 24/07/2012

Increasing your dietary intake of antioxidant vitamins C, E and selenium could reduce your risk of developing pancreatic cancer.

Cancer of the pancreas is difficult to detect and treat, and is often not diagnosed until the cancer is advanced. More than 250,000 people die each year around the world from the disease and only 5 per cent of patients with pancreatic cancer survive beyond five years.

Nuts are a good source of selenium

But researchers have discovered that 1 in 12 of these cancers might be prevented if the association between dietary intake and pancreatic cancer turns out to be causal.

Writing in the journal Gut, the researchers looked at data from more than 23,500 adults collected from the Norfolk arm of the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer (EPIC) study.

For the study, which took place between 1992 and 1993, all participants filled out a food diary tracking the food they ate during a 7 day period. A specially designed computer programme called DINER calculated the nutrient values for each person.

Of the participants- aged between 40 and 74 years old- 49 developed pancreatic cancer within 10 years of participating in the study. This figure increased to 86 people by 2010. On average they survived six months after diagnosis.

The nutrient intakes of pancreatic cancer patients were compared with almost 4,000 healthy individuals to see if there were any differences.

Researchers discovered that the 25 per cent of people who took in the most selenium had half the risk of developing pancreatic cancer compared with those whose intake was in the bottom 25 per cent.

In addition, those who were in the top quartile for consumption of vitamins C, E and selenium together were at 67 per cent lower risk of the disease compared to the bottom quartile. The authors wrote:

"If a causal association is confirmed by reporting consistent findings from other epidemiological studies, then population based dietary recommendations may help to prevent pancreatic cancer."

Antioxidants are substances that may protect cells from the damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals. Free radical damage may lead to cancer. The mineral selenium is found in nuts, fish and cereals, and vitamin E is found in vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and egg yolk.

© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2012

Categories:  Health
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