A new study reveals that obesity raises the risk of pancreatic cancer, but this can be modified by exercise.Only one person in 20 can expect to live for more than five years after pancreatic cancer has been diagnosed and little has been known about how to prevent it (although smoking is a risk factor).
So it's encouraging to learn that you can do something to lower your risk of this highly lethal disease.Researchers at Harvard Medical School have new data from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study - involving nearly 47,000 men - and the Nurses' Health Study, which covers nearly 120,000 women.
They find that people who are obese have a 72 per cent higher risk of pancreatic cancer compared to those who are of normal weight or slightly underweight.This may be because excess weight is linked to blood glucose and insulin abnormalities, and the pancreas makes insulin.
But moderate physical activity - about 1.5 hours a week of walking, cycling, swimming, work outs in the gym or hiking - decreased the risk in obese people. Medications that normalises insulin, and keeping diabetes under control, could reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer. Temporarily, exercise improves glucose and insulin responses and may also offer some protection to the pancreas.