Soda, Processed Meats, and Pancreatic Cancer

In a study published this month in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, researchers have once again demonstrated a potential link to soda consumption and pancreatic cancer:

What we believe is the sugar in the soft drinks is increasing the insulin level in the body, which we think contributes to pancreatic cancer cell growth. That increase in insulin is what may be leading to the development of the cancer.

I say “once again” because elevated blood glucose concentrations – especially those caused by consuming high fructose corn syrup – have previously been associated with a greater risk of pancreatic cancer.

This 2007 study, led in part by Dr. Laurence N. Kolonel of the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii, was just one of a series of studies on the food-based risks of pancreatic cancer. Also quite notable was a 2006 study implicating red and processed meat.

Two items to note with this latter study:

The strongest association was with processed meat.


There were no associations of pancreatic cancer risk with intake of poultry, fish, dairy products, eggs, total fat, saturated fat, or cholesterol.

So it doesn’t appear that animal-source proteins and fats per se are the culprit. Rather, it’s the man-made junk – i.e. the processed meats and refined sugars – that are most likely triggering the insulin overload and subsequent pancreatic distress.

And on a side note – while I don’t know Dr. Kolonel personally, if he gets to come to the office like this each day, I want to work where he does:

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