High dietary lycopene associated with lower risk of pancreatic cancer A study published in the March 2005 issue of the Journal of Nutrition (http://www.nutrition.org/) found a greater intake of lycopene by men associated with a reduction in the risk of pancreatic cancer. Lycopene is a carotenoid found in tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables that has shown evidence of providing a protective effect against prostate and breast cancer. The current study is the first epidemiologic study to assess the role of carotenoid intake from diet in relation to the risk of pancreatic cancer.
Participants were selected from National Enhanced Cancer Surveillance System, a case-control study involving over 21,000 Canadian participants with one of nineteen types of cancer. Four hundred sixty-two men and women diagnosed with pancreatic cancer matched with 4,721 individuals without cancer completed dietary questionnaires which provided information on carotenoid intake.
After adjustment for age, smoking and other factors, it was found that subjects whose lycopene was in the top one fourth of participants experienced a 31 percent lower risk of pancreatic cancer than those whose intake was in the lowest fourth. Beta-carotene and total carotenoid intake were also significantly inversely associated with pancreatic cancer risk but only among those who had never smoked.
The authors conclude these results "suggest that a diet rich in tomatoes and tomato-based products with high lycopene content may help reduce pancreatic cancer risk." Future research will better clarify the role of carotenoids in the prevention of this deadly form of cancer.
Pancreatic cancer According to the National Pancreas Foundation, pancreatic cancer is 4th most common cause of all cancer deaths and the 10th most common malignancy in the United States. Conventional medicine's inability to effectively treat pancreatic cancer is evidenced by survival rates of only 18% at 1 year and 4% at 5 years--one of the poorest 5-year survival rates of any cancer. Pancreatic cancer results in the death of more than 90% of afflicted patients within 12 months.
A review of epidemiological studies on the relationship between nutrition and pancreatic cancer found that, overall, fairly consistent patterns of increased risk with the intake of meat, carbohydrates, and dietary cholesterol have been observed. However, a recent cohort study of US women with confirmed pancreatic cancer cases (178) followed-up over 18 years did not support the findings that meat or saturated fat intakes are related to pancreatic cancer risk. (Michaud et al. 2002, 2003). Fruit and vegetable intakes, in particular, with fiber and vitamin C, have been noted to reduce pancreatic cancer risk (Ghadirian et al. 1991; Ji et al. 1995; Howe et al. 1996).
Serum collected from 25,802 volunteers showed that low levels of serum lycopene were strongly associated with pancreatic cancer and less strongly associated with cancer of the bladder and rectum (Comstock et al. 1991). Serum levels of lycopene and selenium were lower in patients who had pancreatic cancer than in matched controls (Burney et al. 1989). Rats given a diet high in beta-carotene, vitamin C, or selenium, but not vitamin E, developed fewer pancreatic tumors (after artificial tumor induction) than controls (Woutersen et al. 1999).
Several studies show that gamma linolenic acid (GLA) inhibits pancreatic cancer cell growth. Fish oil concentrate high in EPA and DHA has been shown to reverse weight loss (cachexia), reduce levels of growth-promoting prostaglandin E2, and inhibit ras oncogene expression.
Health conscious people have been consuming a lot of borage oil to obtain GLA (gamma-linolenic acid), the parent of the biologically active DGLA (di-homo-gamma-linolenic acid). Life Extension has added 10 milligrams of sesame lignans to each capsule of Mega GLA borage oil. Sesame lignans not only increase beneficial DGLA, but they also help reduce production of pro-inflammatory arachidonic acid, which decreases the formation of destructive prostaglandin E2 and leukotriene B4.
Numerous studies document GLA’s multiple health effects, but new information about the ability of sesame to prevent the conversion of GLA into arachidonic acid indicates that many more people may now be able to benefit from supplemental GLA.
Lycopene may be an important substance in maintaining prostate health. In addition, the strong lipid antioxidant properties of lycopene make it particularly effective in maintaining healthy LDL oxidation and protecting against free radical activity on the arterial wall.