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Study Ties High-Fat, High-Calorie-Diet to Pancreas Cancer Risk

Update Date: Oct 01, 2013 12:18 PM EDT

In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, people must exercise regularly and eat well. Several studies have found a relationship between a good diet and better health. On the contrary, these studies have also found that eating high-fat and high-calorie foods could lead to many healthy complications, such as high blood pressure, obesity and cardiovascular disease. In a new study, researchers tied a high-fat and high-calorie diet to an increased risk of pancreas cancer.

For this study, the research team from the University of California Los Angeles' Comprehensive Cancer Center used mouse models to examine the relationship between a poor diet and pancreas cancer. The research team, headed by Dr. Guido Eibl, a member of the Jonsson Cancer Center and a professor from the department of surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, compared two groups of genetically identical mice. The first group was fed a diet high in fat and calories to induce obesity. The second group had a regular diet. The researchers reported that the first group of mice developed obesity that was comparable to humans.

After inducing obesity, the team examined the effects of the weight gain on the mice's pancreas tissue. They looked for increased inflammation as well as other biological signs that would indicate problems in the pancreas. The tissues were then scored on a scale called the "pancreatitis score." The researchers also performed pathology tests on the tissue to look for precursor lesions, which are tied to cancer.

They found that the group of healthy mice gained an average of 7.2 grams over the span of 14 months. The mice that had the high-fat, high-calorie diet gained 15.9 grams over the same time span. The obese mice had more lesions and a less healthy pancreas.

"The development of these lesions in mice is very similar to what happens in humans," Eibl said according to Medical Xpress. "These lesions take a long time to develop into cancer, so there is enough time for cancer-preventive strategies, such as changing to a lower-fat, lower-calorie diet, to have a positive effect."

The study, the first of its kind to find a causative link between an animal model and cancer risk, was published in Cancer Prevention Research.

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