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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].



Many patients that undergo chemotherapy report lingering effects of the disease, or from treatment protocols. Some individuals report that experience problems with cognition, clear thinking, memory, focus, concentration, and staying organized which they call “brain fog” or “chemo brain.”

The relationship between inflammation and cancer is still under intense study. Immune inflammation plays a major role during different stages of tumor development, from recognition of the cancer cells, to metastasis, to resolution of the disease. There are proven complex interactions between immune and cancer cells during which there appears to be “cross-talk.”

Chemotherapeutic medications are, of necessity, cytotoxic. The medications cause the death of cells (apoptosis) by programming their death or by interfering with certain biochemical processes within the cell.

The relationship of inflammatory immune cells and dead cells is a complex one. Whenever a cell dies because of infection or injury, inflammatory immune cells release inflammatory cytokines, messages that activate immune cells to clean up debris, and start the healing process.

Chemotherapy, in which both healthy and cancerous cells are killed, can have unintended effects. The medications can damage immune cells and their DNA; the very cells that the body needs to stop cancer cells from multiplying, to clean up the dead cells, and heal the body after cytotoxic challenge.

An example of such a possible problem is tumor lysis syndrome. When large numbers of cells are killed by chemotherapeutic agents, the dying cells release vast amounts of inflammatory-triggering compounds. The body is simply overwhelmed by these factors, resulting in significant immunological and chemical disruptions throughout the body.

A limited number of studies, still to be replicated, suggest that long after treatment has ended, healthy brain cells continue to die off. And at least one study has shown altered brain structure in individuals that had undergone chemotherapy a year previously. These results however, were not seen in patients that had received chemotherapy three years previously.

The relationship between inflammation, cancer, and cancer therapy, is not understood. However, the available science suggests that limiting excessive inflammatory responses by the immune system, may help minimize the adverse effects of chemotherapy, especially as it relates to the brain.










In today’s Wall Street Journal*, Jonathan Rockoff reports on new cancer treatments that are “personalized” depending on whether one is carrying a certain mutated gene. When individuals with specific types of cancer carry the mutated gene, and are treated with these new medications, the results are impressive. Almost 50% of cancer patients taking these medications had shrinkage of tumors compared with 5.5% of those on conventional chemotherapy.

Some patients taking the medications report side effects such as fatigue and joint pain which led their physicians to lower their dose. Fatigue and joint pain are signs of immune dysfunction, typically excessive levels of inflammatory responses by the immune system. The key is to help the body return to immune homeostasis (immune balance).

Immune inflammation has two main functions: a) defending the body from infection, and b) healing the body when an infection has occurred, or if the body injured.

People are becoming increasingly aware that inflammation is also associated with other conditions such as atherosclerosis (1), autoimmune conditions, and even the development of cancer [2, 3].
The relationship between immune inflammation and cancer is not well understood, but it appears that inflammatory responses feed cancer cells and cancer cells trigger inflammatory responses.

The relationship between cancer and inflammation is not simple (4). But studies suggest that if approximately 15 percent of cancer [5], is associated with microbial infection one would expect that if infections were reduced world-wide, so would cancer.

There are certain “hallmarks of cancer” [4]:

Cancer cells:
Are often “immortal”. In a test tube, whereas “normal” cells will divide a number of times before they die off, cancer cells keep dividing and multiplying for a long time—they seem to disregard the natural “death” cycle.

Appear to stimulate blood vessels to grow to them bringing them “good blood circulation” and nutrients.

Are independent—they can grow without input or control from other cells.

Lack “contact-inhibition”. [Normal cells will stop growing when they touch one another, cancer cells will “overgrow” each other.]
Are able to invade other tissues and spread throughout the body (metastasize).

Some scientists consider pre-malignant tumors as being “wound-like” [6]. The body recognizes the presence of the tumor and starts to combat it using inflammation as its weapons system.

The inflammatory response produces immune factors that recruit other inflammatory immune cells into the area to “heal” the “lesion”. Unfortunately however, due to the nature of cancer cells, some of these molecules may only stimulate the growth of more cancer cells resulting in more tissue invasion and metastasis [7]. This is why immune homeostasis is essential to our health.

Taking the following steps may help decrease the chances of getting cancer:
a) Stop the use of tobacco.
b) Drink alcohol in moderation (if you consume alcohol).
c) Have moderate sun exposure (10 minutes/day) and plenty of fresh air.
d) Eat plant-based foods, especially those high in phytonutrients: berries, dark, green, leafy vegetables, cauliflower, broccoli, nuts (in moderation), are great choices.
e) Increase your physical activity. (Physical activity is associated with a reduced risk of cancers of the colon and breast, improved quality of life among cancer patients, and cancer survival (8)).
f) Maintain a healthy weight (obese people have higher rates of cancer)
g) Avoid risky sexual and chemical-abuse behaviors that may expose you to certain infections that may lead to cancer (for example: HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, etc.)
h) Screen regularly for cancer

Also, to help the body achieve inflammatory immune homeostasis, along with eating a healthful diet and controlling your portion sizes, consumption of on a daily basis of hyperimmune egg is prudent.


1. Crandall MA, Corson MA. Curr Treat Options Cardiovasc Med. 2008 10:304.
2. Balkwill F, Mantovani A. Lancet. 2002 357:539.
3. Coussens LM, Werb Z. Nature. 2002 420:860.
4 Hanahan D, Weinberg RA. Cell. 2000 100:57.
5. Kuper H, et al. J Intern Med. 2000 248:171.
6. Coussens LM, et al. Genes Dev. 1999 13:1382.
7. Rakoff-Nahoum S. Yale J Biol Med. 2006 79:123
8. http://www.cancer.gov/newscenter/pressreleases/PhysicalActivity