Blocking a digestive hormone, known as Cholecystokinin (CCK) can help prevent diet-induced pancreatic cancer spread to other areas in the body, reports a new study. The findings of the study are published in the American Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology.
Previous research has shown that obesity and high-fat diets both together and independently increase the risk of pancreatic cancer.
‘A high-fat diet may promote the growth of cancer in the pancreas because of the association between dietary fat and a digestive hormone.’
A high-fat diet promotes the growth of pancreatic cancer independent of obesity because of the interaction between dietary fat and cholecystokinin (CCK) digestive hormone released by the small intestine. The hormone secretion gets further triggered by the fatty diet.
"Most patients with advanced pancreatic cancer succumb to the disease due to metastases; therefore a compound that blocks metastases, even when the primary tumor size is large, may have clinical significance," said the researchers including Jill Smith from the Georgetown University in the US.
"CCK [receptor] blockade may play a role in the treatment and prevention of pancreatic cancer," they added.
The team of researchers fed one group of mice with a high-fat diet while the other half were given a normal diet. Then some of them were treated with proglumide -- a medication that blocks CCK.
The results showed that mice treated with proglumide had less tumor growth than the untreated mice, even when fed a high-fat diet.
Further, they found that among high-fat-diet-fed mice lacking CCK receptors did not show any tumor growth, suggesting that without receptors to bind to, increased CCK from dietary fat is unable to promote cancer.
The team explained that pancreatic growth and regeneration occurs through the interaction of CCK with CCK receptors, proteins that bind to CCK to produce a physiological reaction.
Proglumide treatment also protected the mice from the development of excessive fibrous tissue -- fibrosis -- that can be associated with cancer metastases and resistance to chemotherapy, the researchers said.