Research links sugar and pancreatic cancer
Fructose and sucrose intake might cause the disease, says a study of multiethnic people
A diet high in sugars has been linked to a higher risk of pancreatic cancer, a Cancer Research Center of Hawaii study shows.
Researchers analyzed data for 162,000 participants, including Caucasians, Japanese Americans and native Hawaiians in Hawaii and African Americans and Latinos in Los Angeles.
When the study began, participants were asked to answer a diet questionnaire. Over the next eight years, researchers followed up, looking for the occurrence of cancer, and compared the diet of those individuals with others in the test group.
The group recorded 434 cases of pancreatic cancer, said Dr. Loic Le Marchand, CRCH researcher and professor.
The researchers concluded: "High fructose and sucrose intakes may play a role in pancreatic cancer etiology. Conditions such as overweight or obesity in which a degree of insulin resistance may be present may also be important."
Sucrose, extracted from sugarcane and sugar beets, is commonly known as cane sugar. Fructose occurs in fruits and fruit juices.
The pancreas, an organ that sits between the stomach and intestines, secretes digestive enzymes and produces insulin and other hormones that regulate the metabolism of sugar. Pancreatic cancer usually spreads rapidly and is seldom detected in the early stages, making it one of the most difficult cancers to treat.
Other results of the study, published in a recent issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and reported by foodconsumer.org:
» Those who were obese and overweight with the highest sucrose intake had a 46 percent increase in risk of pancreatic cancer compared with the lowest intake.
» Those who used the highest amounts of fructose were 35 percent more likely to have the cancer.
Le Marchand said work is continuing to compare ethnic groups in the test group for pancreatic cancer risk. "It may be more important for some than others," he said.
The analysis fit previous observations of the researchers showing that people with diabetes or prediabetic conditions were at high risk for pancreatic cancer, Le Marchand said.
"Results of the diet are very consistent with what we know of the risk for diabetes and pancreatic cancer."
But the study showed no link between pancreatic cancer and a factor known as glycemic load (a measure of carbohydrate intake) and additional sugars, as had been theorized.
The test group, known as a multiethnic cohort, was organized 24 years ago with 215,000 participants in Hawaii and California. Basic data were collected on their diets, physical activity, reproductive history, medications and subsequent illnesses. The National Cancer Institute funded the study to learn why some people get cancer.