Pancreatic cancer is one of the most dangerous forms of cancer. Patients with pancreatic cancer only have a 29 percent chance of lasting a year after their diagnosis. This rate drops down to a mere seven percent if survival is considered for five years.
Pancreatic cancer is also very hard to spot in its early stages. Screening tests designed to detect it in its asymptomatic stages are complicated and very costly. So by the time pancreatic cancer is diagnosed, it is often too late.
Conventional treatment for pancreatic cancer calls for surgical removal of the tumor. If performed during the early stages of the disease, it will give the patient a 27 percent chance of surviving for at least five years. However, once the cancer reaches the lymph nodes or surrounding tissues, the five-year survival rate goes down to 11 percent. (Related: There is a DIRECT correlation between higher vitamin intake and lower pancreatic cancer risk.)
A 2015 study conducted by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh suggests that pancreatic cancer is surprisingly easy to avoid. Their findings show that the risk of developing the cancer can be reduced by a considerable margin if a person increases his or her daily intake of vitamin B6 and choline.
The study uses information from the Singapore Chinese Health database gathered from 1993 to 1998. It involved more than 63,000 participants, all of whom accomplished a dietary questionnaire regarding their intake of certain nutrients. The amount of choline and vitamin B6 in their diet received particular attention from the researchers.
The nutrient intake of every participant was observed over the course of 16 years. Eventually, the study reduced its pool of subjects to 271 patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, the study presented two conclusions. The first conclusion was that people who get large amounts of vitamin B6 on a regular basis are 48 percent less likely to develop pancreatic cancer. The second conclusion was that people who consume high amounts of choline have a 33 percent reduced risk of getting pancreatic cancer.
Vitamin B6 plays an important role in influencing the activity of enzymes responsible for the methylation pathway – a process by which methyl groups are added to the DNA molecule. Methylation of transcription factors inhibits DNA expression.
Furthermore, the B vitamin also displays antioxidant activity. It protects genetic data from getting damaged by oxidative stress. Choline is a vitamin-like substance that can serve as a methyl donor. Like vitamin B6, it can protect healthy cells against cancer.
In addition to protecting against pancreatic cancer, both nutrients can support human health in other ways. Vitamin B6 improves metabolism, supports healthy blood and hormone levels, and reduces the risk of stroke. Choline also promotes healthy metabolism and improves brain, liver, muscle, and nerve functions.