Pancreatic cancer is the 12th most common cancer in the world and often has a poor prognosis, even if diagnosed early. Pancreatic cancer typically spreads rapidly and is rarely detected in its early stages, which explains why it is a leading cause of cancer death.
In a recent review published last month in Medicine, researchers conducted a meta-analysis investigating vitamin intake on pancreatic cancer risk.
This review consisted of 25 studies that included over 1.2 million individuals and 8,000 pancreatic cancer cases published from 1991 to 2014. The results demonstrated that moderate vitamin intake can reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer. There was a 27% reduction in the incidence of pancreatic cancer with vitamin B12 and a 25% reduction for vitamin D. Other nutrients showed positive effects, such as vitamins A, C, E, K, B1, B2, B3; however, their results were not as great as vitamins B12 and D.
Previous research has shown that vitamins A, C, and E can increase the activity of superoxide dismutase to decrease the incidence of pancreatic cancer in animal studies, and vitamin E can inhibit the growth of human pancreatic cancer cells by suppressing NF-kB-mediated inflammatory pathways.
I shared a study three years ago from researchers at the University Of California San Diego School Of Medicine that reported pancreatic cancer rates are highest in countries with the least amount of sunlight. This research also supports the theory that a vitamin D deficiency may contribute to risk of pancreatic cancer.
When levels of vitamin D are inadequate there is an increased risk of pancreatic cancer. There are multiple factors that affect our body’s ability to make vitamin D. While most of the vitamin D in our bodies comes from exposure to the sun, we often need to obtain additional vitamin D from other sources. The majority of us are deficient in this crucial vitamin due to multiple factors. There are those who intentionally avoid the sun due to the dangers of overexposure. In addition, it seems that more and more people spend a great deal of time indoors under fluorescent lights and away from natural light. Also, depending on geographical latitude and time of year, some individuals may not be able to get adequate sunlight even if they tried. In certain locations this can actually be most of the year. And for those people who do spend a lot of time in the sun, many take great care to cover up their bodies (clothing, sunblock, etc), preventing optimal vitamin D absorption.
By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS
Source: Liu Y, Wang X, et al. Vitamin intake and pancreatic cancer risk reduction: A meta-analysis of observational studies. Medicine. 2018 Mar;97(13):e0114. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000010114.