New study says that a diet high in fat and calories increases chances of pancreatic cancer in humans.
For the study, researchers induced obesity in mice by keeping them on corn oil-based diet. These mice were genetically mutated so that they were predisposed to have pancreatic cancers. A mutation like this also happens in humans with pancreatic cancers.
The researchers found that almost all mice became obese and all of them developed insulin resistance as well as pancreatic inflammation.
"Our results showed that in mice, a diet high in fat and calories led to obesity and metabolic disturbances such as insulin resistance that are seen in obese humans. It also greatly enhanced pancreatic inflammation and pancreatic cancer development," said Dr. Guido Eibl, associate professor in the department of surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the UCLA.
The mice also developed more severe pre-cancerous lesions than the mutated mice that were on normal diet, meaning that even if predisposed to pancreatic cancers due to genetic factors, one can lower the risks by being on low fat and calorie diet and avoid severe cancer growth.
Previous studies have shown that obese people are more likely to get pancreatic cancers. However, these studies were population based and showed only a correlation. The present study focused on the mechanism of pancreatic cancers linked to obesity.
"This suggests that the high-fat, high-calorie diet accelerated pancreatic cancer development. A KRAS mutation in the pancreas might not be sufficient to cause an individual to develop pancreatic cancer. It likely needs something in addition – a secondary hit. Our study showed that a high-fat, high-calorie diet could provide an environmental secondary hit and trigger cancer development," said Eibl.
Other types of cancers like prostate cancer are also linked to high fat diets. A recent study says that a high fat diet increases growth of prostate cancer than a diet high in carbohydrates. Another study reported that fat reduction in diet delays invasive prostate cancer.
The results of the present study were presented at the American Association for Cancer Research’s Pancreatic Cancer: Progress and Challenges conference.