A high-fat, calorie rich diet could accelerate the development of pancreatic cancer, according to new research in mice.
"Our study showed that a high-fat, high-calorie diet could provide an environmental secondary hit and trigger cancer development," said Dr Guido Eibl from the University of California, Los Angeles – who led the research.
"In mice, a diet high in fat and calories led to obesity and metabolic disturbances such as insulin resistance that are seen in obese humans. It also greatly enhanced pancreatic inflammation and pancreatic cancer development," To understand the link between high fat diets and cancer Eibl and his colleagues first tested the hypothesis that diet itself can affect cancer.
They tested this by feeding a corn oil-based diet that had a high content of fat and calories to mice with a genetic mutation that caused them to develop pancreatic pre-cancer. The results showed that 90% of the mice fed the diet became obese, and all of these mice developed insulin resistance and inflammation in the pancreas.
Both of these conditions can stimulate the growth of pre-cancerous cells and cancer, said the research team.
"This suggests that the high-fat, high-calorie diet accelerated pancreatic cancer development," said Eibl.
The researchers are now defining the how such inflammation could be accelerating the development of the cancer – and whether agents such as antidiabetic drugs or omega-3 rich fish oil can halt this disease process.