Can a High Dietary Antioxidant Intake Cut the Risk of Pancreatic Cancer?

New research published in the journal Gut concluded that increasing the dietary intake of the antioxidant vitamin C, E. and selenium can help reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer by up to two-thirds and if the relationship turns out to be causal one in twelve of these cancers might be prevented.

Researchers tracked the health of over 23,500 people between age 40 and 74 between 1993 and 1997.  All participants completed a comprehensive food diary over 7 days detailing the type and amount of all food they ate and the methods they used for preparing it. Each entry in the food diary was matched to one of 11,000 food items and the nutrient values calculated using a special computer program.  Within 10 years of entering the study forty-nine people (55% men) developed pancreatic cancer and by 2010 this number increased to 86 (45% men). On average pancreatic participants survived 6 months after diagnosis.

The nutrient intake of those who were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer within 10 years of entering the study were compared with the nutrient intake of almost 4,000 health people. Analysis showed that a weekly intake of selenium in the top 25% of consumption had almost 1/2 the risk of developing pancreatic cancer compared with those whose intake was in the bottom 25%. And those wit a vitamin C, E. and selenium in the top 25% of consumption were 67% less likely to develop pancreatic cancer than those in the bottom 25% of intake.  The researchers say that if this relationship turns out to be causal that would mean preventing more than one in twelve (8%) cases of pancreatic cancer.

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