Are You At Risk Of Developing Pancreatic Cancer?
A lot of people know all too well the function of major body organs like the lungs and heart but cannot tell what the pancreas does. This is sad because the pancreas plays a vital role in the overall body functions. It is located behind the stomach and has two primary purposes which are manufacturing insulin which balances blood sugars and aids the digestion process. Pancreatic cancer is a common diagnosis in the western countries and has a very poor survival outcome. This is because the early stages of the condition have non-specific symptoms that may be confused with other diseases. Some common symptoms of early stages are weight loss, loss of appetite, jaundice and upper abdomen pain.
It is important to note that pancreatic cancer tumors can either be malignant or benign. Malignant tumors are cancerous and life threatening, while benign tumors are not cancerous and are not a threat to life. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are normally combined with surgery which is the main course of treatment. There are various risk factors that will increase chances of pancreatic cancer and while some can be changed, others can be influenced by diet modifications and sensible lifestyle. Some established risk factors include:
1. Family history
Studies show that about 10% of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer have inherited it. This means that if you know there is history of pancreatic cancer in your family, you should avoid exposing yourself to things that will aggravate the condition. It is up to you to find out your family history so that you can easily identify any symptoms associated with the cancer. If indeed this is the case, then you should immediately consult a doctor. This means that your condition will be evaluated and early detection may save your life.
It has been found that pancreatic cancer is more prevalent in men more than in women. This could be because men smoke more than women which increase their chances. Women are also more conscious about their health and are more likely to consult medical expertise when they start experiencing some symptoms. This means that the disease will be diagnosed earlier in women than in men, which increases chances of treatment.
Usually, the risk for pancreatic cancer will increase with age and the older the person is the higher the chances. Diagnosis is rate for persons under 50 years and the highest number of diagnosis is among people over 60 years of age. Therefore, it is important to make sure that you lead a healthy lifestyle and diet to reduce your chances.
Studies have shown that African Americans are likely to be at higher risks of pancreatic cancer than any other ethnic race. The reasons why African Americans are affected most are non-conclusive but some major factors could be higher smoking rates or socioeconomic factors.
5. Preexisting medical conditions
Certain medical conditions like hereditary pancreatitis and diabetes are a common trigger for pancreatic cancer. However, you should note that having diabetes does not necessary mean that you will end up with pancreatic cancer but these two have a link. Also, people who have other types of cancer like gallbladder, stomach, pharynx and cervix cancers among others are at a risk of pancreatic cancer. Some of this may be as a result of a common cause which is smoking.
Research has shown that cigarette smoking doubles your risks of developing pancreatic cancer. The more and the longer you smoke the higher the chances of ending up with pancreatic cancer. There is a common misconception that smoking only puts your lungs at risk. You should also note that smoking will aggravate genetically inherited pancreatic cancers. When you quit smoking, you will drastically reduce or completely stop the risk of cancer in generic cases.
Lack of exercise combined with fatty diet will eventually lead to obesity and thus increase your risk of developing pancreatic cancer. You should also avoid nitrosamines, cholesterol fried foods and red meat diets if you wish to reduce the risk. Doctors recommend engaging in some form of physical activity and include vegetable and fresh fruits in your diet. If you do not know where to begin, you should consult a doctor who will advise you on the foods to avoid and which ones to include in your diet.