UCLA researchers have discovered the first direct link between obesity and pancreatic cancer.
Scientists with the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California-Los Angeles say the findings provide a new understanding of the disease — a fast-moving cancer that usually has few warning signs and is almost always deadly — that could lead to new treatments.
"This [study's] findings will provide the basis for more robust studies attempting to unravel the mechanisms underlying the cancer-promoting properties of obesity as well as to evaluate dietary- and chemo-preventive strategies targeting obesity-associated pancreatic cancer development," the researchers said.
Pancreatic cancer is the fourth-leading cause of cancer death, according to the National Cancer Institute. Most patients die within 6 months of diagnosis, and only 1 in 20 live five years. Treatments are limited, so researchers have been investigating effective prevention strategies to combat the disease.
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The JCCC study found that mice eating a high-fat, high-calorie diet were more likely to develop cancer lesions than mice eating a healthier diet — a link that researchers believe extends to humans, as well.
The study confirmed that a high-fat, high-calorie diet caused more weight and abnormalities of metabolism and increased insulin levels. It also increased pancreatic tissue inflammation, which is believed to be associated with cancer.
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