Of all the types of cancer, pancreatic cancer has one of the lowest survival rates, with only 3 – 6% of patients going into remission. We need to discuss this very serious form of cancer more. The good news is, there are several things you can do to potentially reduce your risk of developing this disease.
Since November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, here are some wellness tips to try to keep your pancreas going strong!
Your Pancreas And Its Role In Your Health
Your pancreas is part of both your endocrine and digestive systems. It serves two functions. The first is releasing powerful digestive enzymes which aid in digestion. Your pancreas also makes insulin, which helps convert the food you eat into energy.
When the pancreas is damaged either through injury, inflammation (pancreatitis), or cancer, it no longer performs these functions effectively.
Warning Signs Of Pancreatic Disease
The early stages of pancreatic cancer often produce symptoms so subtle that patients may not realize that anything is wrong. If you experience any of the following symptoms for more than two weeks, it’s a good idea to see your doctor for a check-up and blood work.
One of the most reliable signs of pancreatic cancer is unusual bowel movements. This is because the cancer restricts the bilirubin that normally helps break down the fat in foods. Another common symptom of pancreatic cancer is a loss of appetite or. Pain may be a less common symptom, but it tends to be dull, achy, and radiate toward the mid-back when it occurs.
How To Keep Your Pancreas Healthy
Risk factors for pancreatic cancer include a family history of pancreatic or other cancers, smoking, heavily drinking, being overweight, and Type II diabetes. In addition, people who have ever suffered either acute or chronic pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas, are at a higher risk for pancreatic cancer.
Obviously, there’s little you can do to change your medical history. However, you can take steps to minimize your risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
First and foremost, heavy drinking is the number one risk factor that you can control.
Most medical professionals agree that one alcoholic beverage per day for females and no more than two for males will not increase your health risks. However, if you feel you may be struggling with addiction, you may wish to seek outside help. Many mental health professionals receive training in addiction management. Plus, support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, are readily available and free.
In addition, if you are a smoker, your increased risk of pancreatic cancer should give you an additional incentive to stamp out the butts for good.
While tackling nicotine addiction is no walk in the park, the results are well worth it. Smoking harms not only your pancreas but also every organ in your body, including your skin.
The good news is, within six short years of quitting, your body will mostly likely heal and feel like a non-smoker’s. Since smoking also causes premature skin aging, you’ll have a fresh, rosy, healthful glow to boot! If you need help quitting, there are plenty of free resources available at Smokefree.gov.
Many overweight people avoid regular doctor visits.
However, since obesity is controllable, eating healthy food and exercising regularly are great preventative measures. In addition, having regular medical checkups can help you to detect pancreatic cancer in its earliest stages, when it is most responsive to treatment.
A pancreatic cancer diagnosis is pretty serious, so take any steps necessary to reduce your risks. Cancer is, unfortunately, one of those conditions that we can’t necessarily control or avoid. Remember, though, managing those controllable risk factors can substantially reduce your chances of developing it!