Patrick Swayze and Pancreatic Cancer Prevention

Earlier this month, one of the world’s most beloved actors, Patrick Swayze, passed away as a result of pancreatic cancer. He had been diagnosed nearly two years earlier.

Although he will be missed by many fans, doctors have recently discovered a new drug that could have prevented Patrick Swayze’s death! This new drug is said to be able to prevent a protein called TAK-1 from working properly. TAK-1 causes cancer cells in the pancreas to become resistant to chemotherapy.

This scientific breakthrough is good news to pancreatic cancer patients as overcoming chemotherapy resistance is indicative of a step towards eradication of the cancer. Roughly 13% of pancreatic cancer patients are still alive one year after their initial diagnosis; this number drops by 2 – 3% after a period of five years. The American Cancer Society believes pancreatic cancer to be the fourth leading cause of cancer related deaths overall.

The findings were presented by Dr Davide Melisi, from the National Cancer Institute in Naples, at a conference in Berlin, Germany, yesterday. Dr Melisi explained the effectiveness of the drug by stating:

“The use of this TAK-1 inhibitor increased the sensitivity of pancreatic cells to all three chemotherapeutic drugs.”

However, there are a few natural ways to help prevent pancreatic cancer:

Lose the Weight

Researchers at the American Cancer Society discovered that being overweight, especially around the tummy area, doubles a person’s chances of having pancreatic cancer.

Lose the Sugar

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study in 2006 that found that ingesting high amounts of sugar is associated with pancreatic cancer. The most common culprit is sodas that contain high fructose corn syrup or sucrose.

The Journal of the National Cancer Institute, in 2002, published a study in which diabetic and hypoglycemic women, who were also overweight and lead a mostly sedentary lifestyle, who also consumed large amounts of sugars, had a 95% increased risk for pancreatic cancer than other women.

Lose the Fat

The Journal of the National Cancer Institute published a study online in August 2009, in which it was found that people who ate high amounts of total saturated and monounsaturated fats that mostly came from dairy and red meats, were 36% more likely to have pancreatic cancer, than those people who ate a low fat diet.

Avoid Over-Cooking Your Meat

The American Association for Cancer Research conducted a study in which they found that people who preferred eating their meat well-done, or slightly burnt, had a 60% increased risk of pancreatic cancer over those people who preferred their meat slightly undercooked.

Lose the Alcohol

Drinking two or more alcoholic drinks on a daily basis can increase your risk of pancreatic cancer by 22%, stated a report filed in the March 2009 issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention.

Quit Smoking

It is believed that roughly 30% of pancreatic cancers are due to cigarette smoking. Based on this, smokers have a risk that is two to three times higher than non-smokers in developing pancreatic cancer. Researchers at Michigan State University conducted a study in 2007 where they discovered that the chemicals which are produced through the burning of tobacco products actually prevents proper communication between the cell’s in a person’s body. In fact, the chemicals released by the tobacco are factors in what is essentially the start of the pancreatic cancer. According to another study, smokeless tobacco prevented a 60% increased risk of pancreatic cancer in comparison to non-tobacco users.

Avoid Periodontal Disease

Researchers from both the Harvard School of Public Health as well as the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute established that people who had periodontal disease also had a direct link to an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer. This type of gum disease is simply a bacterial infection that causes an inflammation of the gums. Over a period of time, the periodontal disease then causes a loss of bone that holds a person’s teeth. In 2007, the researchers conducted a study involving 51,529 people in America who had periodontal disease. Their research indicated that these people had a 63% higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer when compared against people who had healthy gums and teeth.

Avoid Chemicals

The Environmental Protection Agency back in 2006 concluded that two specific chemicals called perfluorooctanoate and perfluorooctanesulfonate, were “likely human carcinogens”. These two chemicals have not only been linked to reproductive illness, but also to low birth weight in new-born babies and premature breast development in children as well.

These chemicals are commonly found in food packaging, nonstick pans, pesticides, stain-resistant clothing, upholstery, carpets and even in a few personal care items too.

It appears that whilst both of these chemicals are associated, in high concentrations, with cancer in animals, it is still vastly unknown as to whether they cause cancer in humans.

Photo Credit: Katiya Rhodes-Singh

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