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Pancreatic cancer is an aggressive and treatment-resistant cancer that appears to be driven by pancreatitis, inflammation of the pancreas.   Although most people with pancreatitis never go on to develop pancreatic cancer, drinking alcohol in excess, obesity, and particularly smoking, has long been associated with a greater risk of having pancreatic disease.

The Role of The Pancreas
The pancreas is a digestive organ with two main functions.  It produces digestive enzymes to break food down in our intestines, and it contains clusters of cells, Islets of Langerhans, that help the body regulate its blood sugar levels.

Inflammation as a Contributor to Pancreatic Cancer
Inflammation is a complex immune response.  Pancreatic inflammation, mediated by cytokines, immune messengers, up-regulate (increase) inflammation which may lead to pancreatic cancer. Once inflammation is triggered, more immune cells are attracted to the inflamed pancreas and additional cytokines are released that damage pancreatic tissue and attract other damage-causing immune cells.

One of the roles of the immune system is to recognize and destroy cancer cells.  There is a significant amount of “cross-talk” between cancerous cells and immune cells.  On one hand immune cells track down cancer cells in an attempt to destroy them.  They can “turn-on” (up-regulate) or “turn-off” (down-regulate) cancerous cells.  Signals from cancerous cells can result in marked imbalances of immune cells, or make them function in odd ways.

Role of Cytokines in Pancreatic Cancer.
For example, pancreatic tumor cells are able to dampen some of the immune responses of the immune system leaving pancreatic cancer cells to multiply more easily. Cytokines from immune cells can change the environment around tumor cells and act directly on them, triggering their growth and migration to other parts of the pancreas and body. Some cytokines transform cancer cells into becoming resistant to chemotherapy.

Others may act either to trigger inflammation or stop inflammation depending on circumstances. In one study of pancreatic cancer, the most invasive parts of a tumor were found in the midst of heavily inflammatory centers.

Bacteria May Drive Inflammation and Cancer
Interestingly, the studies of our microbiome, the bacteria that inhabit our digestive tracts and other parts of the body, suggest that the bacteria that inhabit us may trigger inflammation, thereby promoting the growth of cancers.

In summary, limiting inappropriate inflammation and achieving a state of immune balance, homeostasis, may be a significant contributor in reducing the risk of pancreatic disease.

Dr. Greenblatt  looks forward to assisting you in reaching your health goals:   http://drhellengreenblatt.info/contact-dr-hellen or 1.302-265.3870 [USA, ET].

 

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4145756
scitechnol.com/2324-9293/2324-9293-1-e104.phpwww.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12020670
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25170202
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24855007
www.nature.com/bjc/journal/v108/n5/full/bjc201324a.html
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24855007

Many more bacterial genes than human genes are found in the body. Samples from 124 healthy Europeans found on average more than 530,000 unique genes in each sample and 99.1% were from bacteria. These bacteria live symbiotically, on, or in, our bodies. While we provide them with food and lodging, they help us stay healthy in many ways including helping us to digest our food, and providing vitamins and other nutrients for us to use.

Dr. David A. Relman of Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA has found that when people take bacteria-killing antibiotics, the microbial ecosystem that returns is different from the microbe population prior to taking antibiotics. Moreover, if the same antibiotic is taken again, even 6 months later, the bacteria take longer to come back and the bacteria are even more different.

Dr. Relman says, “Everything comes with a cost,” he said. “The problem is finding the right balance. As clinicians, we have not been looking at the cost to the health of our microbial ecosystems.”*

Once again, the importance of balance in the body is paramount. Considering that over 75% of the immune system is represented in the gut, immune balance, inflammatory homeostasis, helps the body provide natural resistance to disease. If the immune system is not functioning properly, if it is in disorder, the physical and emotional aspects of our life and health will be out of balance and in disarray.

A body in immune homeostasis is able to respond appropriately to challenges by either “boosting” the “fire power” of an inflammatory immune response to “burn out” an infection, or suppress an inappropriately excessive immune response to the challenge. The key is to maintain immune homeostasis.

*http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/30/science/30microbe.html?pagewanted=2&ref=science

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