Can Alcohol Consumption Cause Pancreatic Cancer?
What exactly causes pancreatic cancer? It is probably the deadliest cancer there is. Why is that, and does alcohol cause pancreatic cancer?
Pancreatic Cancer – Deadliest of Them All. Why?
I have had several friends who have suffered from pancreatic cancer or pancreatitis and they are both horribly painful and ravage those afflicted with them. For years anything to do with the pancreas immediately brought alcohol abuse to mind. This has been proven not true in many cases. I will go into the whys and wherefores in this article.
The pancreas is a long organ/gland nestled in behind the abdomen and has a dual function. It is part of both the digestive and endocrine systems, so it not only produces the enzymes which help with our digestion, but also sends insulin to control our blood glucose levels.
Pancreatic cancer is the most lethal of all cancers. Unfortunately it does not show a lot of early symptoms, so doesn’t show up until it is already past the point of no return and it has spread to other organs.
So, does alcohol cause pancreatic cancer, or are there other things that are more likely culprits?
The causes of this cancer include, yes, sometimes alcohol consumption or smoking, or it can just be a coincidence (if you smoke or drink).
A recent discovery from researchers at the University of Texas Cancer Centre has established a connection between inflammation and pancreatic cancer. Pancreatitis is inflammation in the pancreas, and causes a higher risk for pancreatic cancer. Inflammation causes immediate changes in pancreatic cells.
Signs and Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer
Although, as stated above, early symptoms are few and far between, things to watch for include:
- jaundice or yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes. This occurs when the tumour in the head of the pancreas blocks the bile duct
- abdominal pain that radiates to your back
- loss of appetite or weight loss for unknown reasons
- pale and greasy stools
- dark colored urine
- itchy skin
- diabetes becoming more difficult to control
- constant fatigue
If you would like to avoid pancreatic cancer (and I’m sure you would), there are certain controllable risk factors that should be adhered to, as well as some things you can do:
- smoking, whether cigarettes, cigars, or smokeless tobacco products, can increase your risk. Roughly 25% of pancreatic cancer cases are believed to be caused by smoking.
- obesity is also a factor for overweight people, especially those with extra weight around their waistline.
- eat a healthy diet of fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean meat and limit alcohol content.
Some testing methods for pancreatic cancer include blood chemistry studies, tumor marker tests, PET scans, ultrasound, laparoscopy, and biopsy.
Medical Treatments for Pancreatic Cancer
There are treatments for this deadly cancer, some medical and some natural. First, the medical ones. These can be a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Unfortunately pancreatic cancer is significantly more resistant to these treatments than any other cancers. And, of course we are all aware that often the treatments are worse than the cure. The only treatment that may cure patients is the complete removal of the pancreas.
It is possible to live without a pancreas but these people will become diabetic, needing to take insulin and enzyme pills for the remainder of their lives. As well, often the cancer cells have metastasized prior to surgery.
The good news is new surgical technologies such as irreversible electroporation, are being used. Probes are placed around the tumor and an electrical impulse is used to poke holes in the tumor and sometimes remove pieces of it. Researchers are attempting to identify whether or not genetic factors may play a role in preventing or treating pancreatic cancer. Immunotherapy is being researched and is showing promise as a less toxic treatment.
In early 2022 an extensive clinical trial found that a combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy caused the immune system to go into overdrive against the cancer.
Natural Therapies for Pancreatic Cancer
There are natural ways to help your body fight this horrid, life altering disease. Eat several small meals per day at regular intervals in order to improve energy level. Stay hydrated. Avoid sugars, carbohydrates, and fats in meals to keep the blood sugar level stable and reduce burden on the pancreas. Have high protein meals including lean meat, poultry, and fish, beans, and eggs.
There are numerous supplements thought to treat pancreatic cancer and research is ongoing. Pancreatic enzymes are at the forefront. These enzymes break down fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. This is produced in the form of a juice by the pancreas and helps with digestion by neutralizing stomach acid. When they are injured or inflamed, outside pancreatic enzymes need to be substituted.
Lipase is one such enzyme, and it works with bile from the liver to break down fat molecules to be absorbed by the body. This helps keep the intestine free of parasites such as bacteria, yeast, and protozoa. Another is Amylose, which breaks carbs down into sugars which are more easily absorbed by the body and are found in saliva.
Symptoms Associated with Pancreatic Enzyme Deficiency
- cramping after meals
- foul smelling gas or stools
- greasy, light colored, frequent stools
- weight loss
Pancreatic enzyme supplements are often used to benefit people with these symptoms.
MCT (medium chain triglyceride) may help control weight loss in these patients. It is a calorie rich type of fat and is found in coconut oil, palm oil, and butter. This supplement may promote weight gain and increase strength and physical activity.
The recommended type and dosage of these supplements are different for each sufferer. To obtain the best results from them there are rules to follow. Take enzymes with every meal containing fat. Start with the smallest possible dose and adjust according to the severity of the pancreatic insufficiency. Take them at the beginning of meals or snack. Take the capsules or tablets with water or other liquid. Do not mix them with dairy products before swallowing. No milk, yogurt, or ice cream.
An herb that is very much on the radar for the pancreatic fight is thymoquinone, an extract of nigella sativa seed oil, also known as black seed oil, or black cumin seed oil. Researchers have discovered that it blocked pancreatic cancer cell growth and enhanced cell death. Much more research and clinical studies are needed but they are ongoing as we speak.
Black cumin seed oil is an incredibly rich source of omega-fatty acids, and is also a rich source of antioxidants, minerals and many beneficial compounds, giving it many very potent health benefits.
Foods That Contribute to a Healthy Pancreas
- Garlic – naturally reduces the amount of sugar in the blood as well as stimulating the pancreas to produce hormones.
- Spinach – contains iron and vitamin B which are essential for proper pancreatic function. It reduces inflammation.
- Kale and Swiss chard are also heroes here.
- Broccoli – because of its sulphur content it detoxifies the pancreas.
- Red grapes – contain antioxidants such as resveratrol which protects tissues from damage as well as blood vessel damage.
- Sweet potatoes – rich in beta-carotene which maintains pancreatic cell and hormone regulation.
- Blueberries – encourage the self destruction of cancer cells.
- Yogurt – containing probiotics it helps the quality of the digestive system.
- Reishi mushrooms – soothe pancreatic inflammation and swelling.
- Licorice – eases inflammation in the pancreas and reduces blood sugar levels.
- Horseradish – due to its concentration of glucosinolates it reduces the growth of cancerous tumors and eliminates carcinogens that could cause pancreatic cancer.
- Lemon – containing vitamin C which counteracts cell damage in the pancreas. Added bonus – they are also rich in magnesium which aids in the creation of pancreatic enzymes.
- Goldenseal – boosts the function and capacity of the pancreas plus strengthens the pancreatic beta cells.
And so concludes the article for today.
So, does alcohol cause pancreatic cancer? Yes, it is lethal and painful, but alcohol is not the main cause of pancreatic cancer, although chronic alcoholism will cause trauma to the pancreas.
Pancreatic cancer is probably the deadliest form of cancer there is, but there are ways to ward it off, ways to alleviate the symptoms, and be of good faith because there is work going on constantly to find a way to stop it in its tracks.
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