Conducted at the National Cancer Institute, a six-year study following over 500,000 people is the first to conclusively link fat intake to pancreatic cancer.
The U.S. participants (308,736 men and 216,737 women aged 50–71 years) completed an AARP Diet and Health Study questionnaire in 1995 and 1996, and were followed for an average of six years. The types and frequency of foods consumed during this time were noted (124 items), and a variety of health outcomes (including pancreatic cancer) were tracked.
Some were given two 24-hour dietary recall surveys within a year. Nutrient intakes were calculated from US Department of Agriculture databases, and pancreatic cancer data were collected from state cancer registries. Only cancers that occurred one year or more after the initial survey data until the end of 2003 were considered.
Compared with men who had the lowest fat consumption, men who consumed high amounts of total fats had 53 per cent relative rates of pancreatic cancer. Likewise, women who consumed high amounts of total fat had 23 per cent higher relative rates of pancreatic cancer as compared to their lowest-fat counterpart. Men and women with high saturated fat diets had 36 per cent higher relative rates of pancreatic cancer.
The researcher noted "to have observed positive associations between pancreatic cancer and intakes of total, saturated, and monounsaturated fat overall, particularly from red meat and dairy food sources. We did not observe any consistent association with polyunsaturated or fat from plant food sources. Altogether, these results suggest a role for animal fat in pancreatic carcinogenesis."
The research, coauthored by Anne C. M. Thiébaut, Li Jiao, Debra T. Silverman, Amanda J. Cross, Frances E. Thompson, Amy F. Subar, Albert R. Hollenbeck, Arthur Schatzkin, and Rachael Z. Stolzenberg-Solomon, is in the June 26 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute and is available online.