Diet and pancreatic cancer: Many questions with few certainties

A. Cappellani, A. Cavallaro, M. Di Vita, A. Zanghi, G. Piccolo, E. Lo Menzo, V. Cavallaro, M. Malaguarnera, A. Giaquinta, M. Veroux, L. Cimino, M. Berretta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background, Objectives: Pancreatic cancer ranks fourth for cancer mortality for men and women in the United States. This is a particularly devastating cancer since the case-fatality proportion approaches 90% within 12 months following diagnosis. Therefore, understanding the etiology and identifying the risk factors are essential for the primary prevention of this deadly disease. Of the few potentially modifiable risk factors that have been identified, cigarette smoking, history of diabetes mellitus, and obesity seem to be among the most consistent, but the effect of dietary factors is still unclear. The aim of our study is to review of the literature examining the potential role of carbohydrates, fatty acids, meat, fruit and vegetables, alcohol. Discussion: Although large prospective cohort studies with questionnaire based analyses will continue to have much to offer in defining predisposing factors for difficult diseases, such as pancreatic cancer, unfortunately dietary questionnaires do not reflect the bioavailability of the nutrients from various foods, the level of absorption from the digestive tract, or individual differences in metabolism. Conclusions: Greater use of participant-derived biological samples, banked plasma, germline DNA, and tumour tissue samples may help to the understanding of pancreatic cancer pathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)192-206
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012


  • Body weight
  • Diet
  • Etiology prevention and control
  • Food habits
  • Pancreatic neoplasms/epidemiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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