The Truth About Diabetic Drugs and Pancreatic Cancer

There is much evidence to consider the fight against diabetes the greatest battle that the human physiology will fight. Live an anti-diabetic lifestyle and you will lower your risk not just for diabetes, but also for most chronic diseases like heart disease, osteoporosis, stroke, dementia and cancer.

However, mainstream medicine understands the concern about diabetes and has created a large arsenal of drugs designed to combat the elevated blood sugar associated with diabetes. But at what cost? Can diabetic drugs lead to more problems than the diabetic condition itself would have? And what is the truth about diabetic drugs and pancreatic cancer?

Of cancers, pancreatic cancer is clearly one that we do not treat well. 5 year survival rates are almost unheard of. This makes prevention of pancreatic cancer of the utmost importance. Ways to avoid pancreatic cancer have been well established in the medical literature and can include:

1) One of the strongest factors in our risk of developing pancreatic cancer is a history of pancreatitis.
2) A strong second on the list is a pro-diabetic lifestyle.
High intakes of fruits and vegetables have been shown to lower rates of pancreatic cancer.
3) Greater intakes of omega 3 fatty acids and reduced intakes of omega 6 fatty acids have been shown to lower the risk.
4) Optimal levels of vitamin D may play a role in preventing pancreatic cancer as well.

So clearly, diabetes and pancreatic cancer are linked. What does this have to do with diabetic drugs? If a diabetic drug makes our blood glucose numbers look better, would they not also lower the risk of pancreatic cancer by proxy?

Everything in our bodies has a place and a range that it is designed to function best at. Hormones certainly fall under this category. Insulin, for example, does amazing things in our bodies, but as the levels of insulin increase, either from prediabetes or prescription insulin given to type 1 diabetics, this elevation leads to a breakdown in health of epic proportions.

Another very important hormone is one called Glucagon-Like-Peptide 1, or GLP-1. This hormone is released in response to certain signals in the food we eat, but mainly from “sweet.” Our small intestine has taste cells just like those of our tongue called “L” cells. So when “sweet” crosses this cell in the small intestine, these taste cells release GLP-1 that does all kinds of wonderful things in regards to helping our bodies handle sugar.

Our bodies were designed to break down GLP-1 very quickly. It was clearly not designed to be active for a longer period of time in the human body. In steps the pharmaceutical companies.

The initial drug development was on synthetic GLP-1 (ours gets broken down in about 2 mins, so human GLP-1 can’t be used), but that proved tricky. The next direction was to slow down the enzyme that breaks down our own GLP-1 so it will last longer than 2 minutes. This involved slowing down the enzyme dipeptidyl peptidase IV (DPP4).

This where current research stands, but drugs designed to interfere with the normal action of GLP-1 are being used very heavily in medicine today, and not just for diabetics, but also for weight loss.

As always, anytime we begin to mess with the normal actions of the human body there is going to be a price to pay. Current concerns over the use of drugs to interfere with the normal actions of GLP-1 pathways are growing. Thyroid cancer growth in mice is well established, but a recent study in the May issue of the journal Diabetes raises graver concerns.

Researchers found that chronic stimulation with GLP-1 in rats led to overstimulation of and abnormal growth of the cells in the pancreas. Clearly this can pave the way for the development of pancreatic cancer in susceptible individuals. And who are susceptible individuals? We’ve already established that diabetics are at greatly increased risk.

So what does all of this mean?

It means that lifestyle changes to lower your risk of diabetes or to manage your diabetes is the ONLY answer to the problem. These include thinks to avoid such as:

**Refined carbohydrates (including enriched wheat flour- read the label; it’s just white flour made brown)
**High fructose corn syrup
**ANY and ALL artificial sweeteners – Splenda, sucralose, Nutrasweet, aspartame, acesulfame K
**Bottled water- a chemical called BPA leeches into the water, and most studies show it’s no different than water from your tap
**ANY and ALL artificial food colorings- the FD&C stuff
**FARM raised fish – the fish are fed corn, which is high in Omega 6 fats, also high in pesticides
**Beer/hard liquor
**Corn fed beef – antibiotics are added to grain, which contributes to the rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria, ie. MSRA, also high in Omega 6 fats which create inflammation
**FAKE peanut butter- the kind that you don’t have to mix (Jif, Skippy, etc.)
**”Healthy” or “Lean” type frozen entrees (Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice, Smart Start, etc.)
**Dairy products- research shows that it does more harm than good; pesticides and antibiotics are concentrated in milk
**Energy drinks (Red Bull, Monster, 5-hour Energy shots, etc.)

Things to have more of:

**Olive oil (cheap stuff for cooking, expensive for dips and dressings)
**Quick, easy meal – Kashi or Amy’s frozen entrees (reasonable prices at Sprouts, Costco, Wal-Mart)
**REAL peanut butter (Naturally More brand)
Organic, grass fed meats (beef, bison, chicken, venison, elk, etc… higher in Omega 3 fatty acids) (Don’t be afraid to ask the butcher)
**Variety of fruits and veggies- 8-10 servings/ day
**WILD caught fish (has higher levels of Omega 3 fats, which are anti-inflammatory)
**Nuts (make sure there are NO added oils like cottonseed or peanut)
**Dark chocolate- high in an antioxidant compound called polyphenol, which protects our cells against aging, injury, damage
**Unsweetened tea- green tea is better than black- also high in polyphenols

Exercise Info:

**Have to perform aerobic as well as strength training (HAVE to build muscle)
**Find something fun to do that feels more like fun (sports, hiking, martial arts, etc…)
**Look into following Al Sears, MD’s PACE program found in the book “Reclaiming our Native Fitness.” A variation on interval training that is gaining evidence as one of the better ways to improve our body composition

Stress:

**Stress kills us. Period. Understand that.
**We all experience stress. Find your way to deal with it through exercise, meditation, hiking, deep breathing techniques, yoga, prayer, etc.

Read the issue of Diabetes here http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/61/5/1250.abstract.