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January 16, 2017
By Adriadne Weinberg, Featured Columnist



The pancreas is one of those little-thought-of internal organs,
that, unless you have diabetes, you're not too aware of. If you
do have diabetes, I'm sure you can’t ignore it.


However, the pancreas is working to process things all the
time, especially when you're chowing down. It's principal
functions are to aid in digestion and regulate blood sugar. (Yes,
that second function is intimately tied to the diabetes thing.)


Unfortunately, diabetes isn't the only independent risk factor
for pancreatitis, and sadly, the pancreatitis-diabetes connection
sometimes goes both ways. There have been reports of people
with diabetes contracting pancreatitis from it, as well. Studies
have brought up complications with diabetes medications;
they've found that some will protect you from the disease and
some will actually put your pancreas more in danger.


Gallstones are the most common cause of pancreatitis, but
there are also other controllable factors. Smoking and heavily
drinking are both correlated with increased risk for
pancreatitis, and most probably they have a synergetic effect.
In other words, smoking and drinking is much more harmful
for your pancreas than just smoking or just drinking. Obesity
and an unhealthy lifestyle and diet have also been linked to
pancreatitis.


In the category of totally uncontrollable factors, we have the
blood type: Non-O blood types are more likely to develop
pancreatic cancer.


You're probably asking yourself just how common pancreatitis
is. The answer: Kinda. But it can be lethal. According to a 2013
report from Yadav Dhivaj from the University of Pittsburgh, the
global annual rate of pancreatitis is 8 in 100,000 people.
However, it is the most frequent gastrointestinal cause of
hospital admissions in the U.S and the 4th most common cause
of death from cancer. In 2009, approximately 275,000
hospitalizations were due to pancreatitis, an increase of
twofold since 1988.


In other words, pancreatitis is on the rise. Actually, pancreatitis
has been around as a known affliction for centuries. The first
medical description of pancreatitis was made in 1652 by Dr.
Nicholaes Tulp, who was then both a practicing anatomist and
the mayor of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. At that time,
dissections were only allowed on the cadavers of criminals who
had been publicly hanged and it was on one such cadaver that
Mayor Tulp made his now famous discovery.


Whether you are battling with pancreatitis, at risk for it, or
definitely want to avoid it, read on to find some tips of how to
bring down the possibility of falling victim to the disease.


      




























1.
Cut Down on Alcohol Consumption



If you are a heavy drinker or alcoholic, the best thing you can
do for your pancreas is just stop with all the alcohol already.

Maybe just drink on weekends, or if you are especially at risk,
give it up entirely. Dhiraj Yadav from the University of Arkansas
medical sciences division confirms that the prevalence of
pancreatitis increased 4 fold in subjects with a history of
alcoholism compared to those without.

In 2007, Dhiraj Yadav and colleagues tested heavy drinkers
with chronic pancreatitis and the prevalence of risk factors in
the subjects (male veterans in a detox program). In 39/42 of
the patients diagnosed with pancreatitis, alcohol use turned out
to be a definite etiology.


2.
Don’t Smoke Cigarettes


Sometimes, after drinking a lot, you crave a cigarette. It
happens even to non-smokers who went a little crazy at a
party. “Hey, do you have a cigarette?” Someone usually does.

If you want to totally avoid pancreatitis, though, you’ve got to
totally avoid the smokes.

First reported as a risk factor for pancreatitis in 1982, it is now
estimated that smoking will increase the likelihood of
contracting pancreatitis by 25%. R.H. Hawes and colleagues
from the University of Pittsburgh reported on a North American
pancreatitis study, which included a multicenter consortium of
20 U.S. centers, 540 patients with chronic pancreatitis, 460
patients with recurrent acute pancreatitis, and 695 controls.
Subjects were studied from 2000 to 2006.

Cigarette smoking was found to be an independent dose-
dependant risk factor for chronic pancreatitis and recurrent
acute pancreatitis.


3.
Combine the Mediterranean Diet with a Healthy Lifestyle


In 2009, L. Jiao from the National Institutes of Health in
Rockville Maryland reported on a study examining lifestyle
factors and pancreatitis.

In the National Institutes of Health-AARP diet and health study,
participants aged 50-71 completed the food frequency
questionnaire and lifestyle information. The analysis started in
1995-1996 and was followed up on December 31st, 2003.
There were 1,057 cases of pancreatitis studied.

The lifestyle factors examined included: non smoking, limited
alcohol use, mediterranean dietary pattern, body mass index
(more than or equal to 18 and less than 25), and regular
physical activity. Then, these factors were scored as unhealthy
(o points) or healthy (1 point).

After analysis, compared with the lowest score (0), the highest
combined score (5) indicated a 58% reduction in the risk of
developing pancreatic cancer.


4.
Skip the Meat, Especially at High Temperatures


Sorry, barbeque lovers. But if you really want to get out of the
way of pancreatitis, you might have to make a sacrifice.

In 2007, R.Z. Solomon-Stolzenberg from the National Cancer
Institute and Department of Health Human Services in Rockville,
Maryland looked at an NIH American Association of Retired
Persons Diet and Health Study cohort containing 537,302
people aged 50-71.

The baseline dietary data was obtained from a food frequency
questionnaire and the meat cooking module completed by
323,913 people 6 months after the baseline.

At the five year follow up, 836 pancreatic cancer cases were
identified.

Total, red, and high temperature cooked meat intake were all
strongly associated with pancreatic cancer with men.

Although people of the male persuasion were most at risk, a
chemical in cooked meat showed a combined risk for both
males and females.



5.
Lose the Tummy Fat


According to a 2013 report by O. Sadr Azodi from the Karolina
Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, the risk for pancreatitis and
your chubby belly have a direct relationship.

Azodi and colleagues looked at cases of acute pancreatitis
(defined as a hospital stay of more than 14 days, in-hospital
death, or mortality within 30 days of discharge). In the data,
68,158 individuals aged 46 to 84 were studied for a median of
12 years. 424 developed first-time acute pancreatitis.

It turned out that people with a waist circumference of more
than 105 centimeters (41.33 inches) had a 100% more cases
of acute pancreatitis compared with those who had a waist
circumference of 75 to 85 centimeters (29.5  to 33.5 inches).

This phenomenon was found in both non-gallstone related and
gallstone related acute pancreatitis, and was seen in pretty
equal proportions amongst men and women. Oddly enough,
there was no association between overall body mass index and
risk of acute pancreatitis.


6.
Attack Your Gallstones


If you have them, that is. According to a 2011 report from C.E.
Ruhl from Social and Scientific Systems, inc, the prevalence of
gallstones in the U.S. adult population is 7%. So, who knows?
You might have them someday.

Gallstones are the most common reason for acute pancreatitis,
but aren’t usually connected to chronic pancreatitis.

You are more likely to develop gallstone-related pancreatitis the
older you are, and it is more common amongst women. Ask
your doctor for a cholecystectomy right after gallstone-related
acute pancreatitis. This will prevent future attacks. (Read more
about
gallstone prevention.)



7.
Eat Less Cholesterol, Reduce Sugar and Avoid Trans Fatty
Acid to Fight Pancretitis


Following a diet that is low in cholesterol, trans fatty acids and
refined sugar can reduce your risk of developing "cholesterol
gallstones", according to a 2009 study from the American
Holistic Medical Association.  Cholesterol gallstones are the
most common gallstones in America, says Dr. Alan R. Gaby, the
study's lead author and a private practitioner specializing in
gallstone prevention for 17 years.

When living with pancreatitis, it's important to avoid causing an
acute attack of pancreatitis, as well as prevent associated
problems and maintain normal blood sugar levels. To achieve
this, experts at Columbia University Medical Center recommend
"high protein, nutrient-dense diets that include fruits,
vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy, and other lean protein
sources." They also emphasize the importance of avoiding
greasy or fried foods.




























































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