Fried Chicken, Pancreatic Cancer and Gravy

Pancreatic cancer develops faster in high fat environments

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) More bad news for folks who love Southern cookin' and greasy foods. A steady diet of fried chicken and French fries steadily leads to obesity, and the health goes down hill from there.

Folks who are heavy because they've eaten lots of fatty foods are often establishing a cascading health sequence that leads to obesity-related diseases.

One of the results of those events could be hastening the development of a bad disease - pancreatic cancer.

"Go easy on the fried foods."

This is what physician-scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles, have discovered. Cancer researcher Guido Eibl, MD, said, "Our results showed that in mice, a diet high in fat and calories led to obesity and metabolic disturbances such as insulin resistance that are seen in obese humans."

The consequences of a high-fat diet also "greatly enhanced pancreatic inflammation and pancreatic cancer development," said Dr. Eibl, who is an associate professor of surgery at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine.

Previous studies have already established the link between high fat diets, obesity and the increased risk of pancreatic cancer. This animal study examined why that link exists.

Researchers fed mice a corn-oil based diet. The animals had been genetically modified to develop pancreatic cancer. They all had a mutant KRAS gene which is found in about 90 percent of the people who develop pancreatic cancer.

The high-fat eaters - 90 percent of them - got obese, and all of the mice developed insulin resistance. That then led to inflammation in the pancreas - in all of them.

Researchers explain that insulin resistance and pancreatic inflammation can encourage the development and growth of precancerous spots that can lead to cancer.

"This suggests that the high-fat, high-calorie diet accelerated pancreatic cancer development," said Dr. Eibl.

"A KRAS mutation in the pancreas might not be sufficient to cause an individual to develop pancreatic cancer. It likely needs something in addition - a secondary hit, " said Dr. Eibil who's a researcher at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. 

"Our study showed that a high-fat, high-calorie diet could provide an environmental secondary hit and trigger cancer development," he said.

Knowing this, scientists are now trying to fully understand the obesity-inflammation-cancer relationship, with the intent of discovering effective ways to interrupt the process.

They're looking to see if anti-diabetic drugs such as metformin or fish oil could stop the cascade.

These study results were presented at the American Association for Cancer Research's Pancreatic Cancer: Progress and Challenges conference.

No funding information or financial disclosures was available.

Research that hasn't been peer-reviewed and published is considered preliminary.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 29, 2012
Last Updated:
January 22, 2013