High-fat food hastens pancreatic cancer, says study

A fat-rich or high-calorie diet can hasten the onset of pancreatic cancer in humans, says a new study.

“Our results showed that in mice, a diet high in fat and calories led to obesity and metabolic disturbances such as insulin resistance that are seen in obese humans,” said Guido Eibl from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), who led the study.

Human studies have linked high fat intake and obesity to an increased risk of pancreatic cancer, but the mechanism driving this association has not been understood, according to an UCLA statement.

Accordingly, Eibl, an associate professor of surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and colleagues first tested the hypothesis that diet is linked to cancer.

They fed a corn oil-based diet with high fat content and calories to mice with a genetic mutation that caused them to develop pancreatic pre-cancer. The same gene, KRAS, is mutated in the majority of human pancreatic cancers.

The results showed that 90 percent of the mice fed the special diet became obese, and all of them developed insulin resistance and inflammation in the pancreas. Both of these conditions can stimulate the growth of precancerous cells and cancer.

These results were presented at the American Association for Cancer Research’s ‘Pancreatic Cancer: Progress and Challenges’ conference organised June 18-21.

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