Although there is no one way to always ensure an individual remains cancer-free during their lifetime, an important way of avoiding the disease, pancreatic in particular, is through prevention. Some risk factors associated with this type of cancer cannot be changed, as this includes genetic factors such as age and family history. Those who can, however, involve lifestyle. Individuals who choose to maintain a healthy lifestyle tend to live longer, are more active, are sick less often, and have a positive outlook, all of which contribute to all-around good health and longevity.
Maintain A Healthy Weight
Obesity is a major contributing factor to developing pancreatic cancer, so losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight is a necessary preventative measure. Of all cancers, about eight percent are linked to obesity. In order to reduce weight, an increase in exercise and a decrease in calories has been scientifically proven as effective. Some cases require surgery, including bariatric which reduces the size of the stomach with a sleeve gastrectomy, biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch, or gastric bypass.
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Eat Nutritious Foods
A healthy diet is beneficial for all-around longevity and is an important way of keeping pancreatic cancer away. Fruits and vegetables of vibrant colors, as well as whole grains, are good staples to choose daily. Food to avoid, which have been connected to pancreatic cancer, are red meat, pork, processed meat, and anything fried, as well as food high in cholesterol and nitrosamines. Choosing lean meats, meat alternatives, and maintaining adequate vitamin folate is recommended.
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Limit Alcohol Consumption
There have been mixed conclusions about whether drinking alcohol in high quantities is a cause of pancreatic cancer or not. It does, however, have other repercussions on internal organs, including the liver. Excessive alcohol use can also wreak havoc on the pancreas by causing chronic conditions, like pancreatic and cirrhosis, both of which can eventually lead to an increased risk of developing cancer of the pancreas. Switching to sparkling non-alcoholic beverages on occasion is a healthier choice. While not drinking alcohol at all is arguably the healthiest choice, those who still wish to partake should limit themselves to no more than ten drinks per week for women and fifteen for men, with a daily limit of two and three respectively.
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Avoid Chemical Exposure
Some environmental and workplace chemicals may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer. Thus, when possible, individuals should limit exposure or take precautions like wearing protective gear to help prevent the development of pancreatic cancer and other conditions. Such chemicals include aflatoxins, air pollution, asbestos, arsenic, coal-tar pitch, diesel engine exhaust, formaldehyde, iron and steel founding, leather dust, lindane, mineral oils, nickel compounds, plutonium, radium, soot, and sulfur mustard. The list is extensive and is categorized into carcinogens, which are known toxins, probable toxins, and anticipated to be human carcinogens.
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Smoking is known as a risk factor for lung cancer, but the risk of developing pancreatic cancer is doubled among smokers. Quitting or not starting is essential for prevention. It is a difficult addiction to break, but with the help of a doctor or other means of support, it is possible. Some individuals rely on smoking cessation aids, like gum and patches, medication, support groups, or nicotine replacement therapy. Some e-cigarettes use non-nicotine flavored substances which may help as well.
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Consider Genetic Testing
Individuals at an increased risk can help prevent the diagnosis of late-stage pancreatic cancer if they consider genetic testing. Some individuals are at a higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer because they have a familial history of pancreatic and related cancers. Specific changes in the genes are responsible for the increased risk of inherited conditions that cause pancreatic cancer. When an individual knows they are at an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer, they can have tests run more frequently so if it does develop, it can be caught at an early stage. Two main tests are done to look for pancreatic cancer in individuals who have undergone genetic testing and have been determined to have an increased risk. An MRI and endoscopic ultrasound are able to find early indicators of pancreatic cancer and are offered to individuals who have a significant family history of the disease. These tests are not offered to screen the general public.
Additional preventative measures can also be taken when one knows they are at a higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
Get Regular Physical Exams
Pancreatic cancer is a variation of cancer that is particularly difficult to diagnose at its early stages. There is no established early detection technique or standard diagnostic tool for pancreatic cancer at this time. Most individuals are diagnosed when they go get regular physical exams, and the location of the tumor has caused symptoms to manifest early. The most common stage of pancreatic cancer diagnosed is stage IV. Because the pancreas is located deep within an individual's abdomen, a physician is typically not able to feel a pancreatic tumor. When an individual gets regular physical exams, they are able to discuss any emerging issues that may be early symptoms of pancreatic cancer. A routine blood panel test can be done to see if there are abnormal amounts of liver enzymes or bilirubin present. When an individual is experiencing changes in their stool, nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, recent-onset diabetes, jaundice, abdominal pain, and or weight loss, their physician may consider the possibility of pancreatic cancer and decide to proceed with further testing. Most symptoms are passed off as normal parts of aging, and they are only brought up during regular physical exams.
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Exercise On A Regular Basis
There are certain lifestyle choices an individual can make to lower their risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Exercising on a regular basis can help an individual maintain or reach a healthy body mass index. Individuals who are obese or have a body mass index of thirty and over are at a twenty percent higher probability of developing pancreatic cancer. In addition, more recent studies have proven individuals with broader waistlines even at a healthy body mass index are at a higher risk for pancreatic cancer. Body fatness has a parallel association with an individuals production of insulin and correlates with the development of insulin resistance. Individuals who have more than a healthy amount of fatty tissue in the body have a pancreas that produces an excess amount of insulin. Insulin is a hormone that has growth-promoting influences on the cells inside of the pancreas, increasing the chance of a cancer-causing mutation occurring. Exercising on a regular basis can help reduce excess fatty tissue in the body and around the waistline that increases the risk for pancreatic cancer.
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Lower Unhealthy Dietary Fats
An individual can reduce their likelihood of developing pancreatic cancer if they lower their consumption of unhealthy dietary fats. While many risk factors cannot be influenced by lifestyle choices, an individual's diet is one of they can influence. Foods such as fried foods, processed meats, frozen tv dinners, potato chips, canned soups, french fries, burgers, dairy products, hot dogs, sausage, bacon, and mayonnaise are all high in unhealthy fats. The pancreas an organ that aids in digestion and helps with the effective breakdown of fats an individual consumes. The more food an individual consumes that is high in fat content, the harder the pancreas has to work for the stomach and small intestine to digest food properly. When the pancreas is working harder, the cell turnover rate of pancreatic cells is increased. An increased cell turnover rate means there is greater opportunity for a mutation to occur in the cell's DNA. In addition, foods high in unhealthy dietary fats can cause an individual to be overweight or obese, which are also risk factors for developing pancreatic cancer.