“Nobody puts baby in a corner.” That line is quite possibly one of the most well-known and easily recognizable lines by the late Patrick Swayze. As Swayze was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, awareness of the disease soon reached the public as he promoted both research and overall knowledge of the silent killer. Recently, however, a break through has been made in an understanding of how the ailment is induced. The study demonstrated that people who drink two or more sweetened soft drinks a week have a much higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer. For those not as familiar with this particular line of cancer, it is extremely virulent, often giving those diagnosed only a 5% chance of survival provided detection of the cancer is often only possible in its later more developed stages. (1)
In the study conducted in Singapore it was shown that people who drank mostly fruit juice rather than the sugar-laden sodas did not have the same increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer, as did those who constantly consumed the sweetened beverages. The study was conducted using 60,000 people, however, it was still relatively inconclusive provided individuals who drink sweetened sodas usually have other poor health habits that could induce cancer. , Mark Pereira of the University of Minnesota was the ultimate coordinator of the study and he hypothesized that increase levels of sugar in the soft drinks could lead to an elevation of insulin in the body. The increased insulin amounts are believed to contribute to the growth of pancreatic cancer cells. The correlation between insulin and pancreatic cancer development is further supported by the principle that insulin, which is necessary to aid the body in metabolizing sugar, the pancreas produces it.(1)
To further support the assertion that sugary soft drinks can lead to pancreatic cancer development, the study followed a total of 60,524 men and women in a Singapore Chinese health study. For a total of fourteen years, 140 of the volunteers developed pancreatic cancer. It was further discovered that individuals who consumed two or more soft drinks a week had an 87 percent higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer.(1)
In an attempt to evade arguments from other scientists that the correlation between the soft drinks and pancreatic cancer was not applicable to other regions of the globe, Pereira asserted, "Singapore is a wealthy country with excellent healthcare. Favorite pastimes are eating and shopping, so the findings should apply to other western countries.” Despite this assertion however, the study was not published without controversy.(1)
Susan Mayne of Yale Cancer Center at Yale University suggested the study was based on a relatively small group of individuals and thus the association between the drinks and cancer should be supported cautiously. Furthermore, it has been shown that red meat can also attribute to increasing the risk of pancreatic cancer development. Consumption of red meat and smoking of cigarettes is another popular past time of Singapore, and both habits Mayne argues can further attribute to cancer development. (1)
Despite the direct cause of pancreatic cancer development remaining unknown, it is still one of the deadliest forms of cancer. In the United States, around 37,000 people are diagnosed with this form of cancer, and of those diagnosed 34,000-fall victim to it. Of those who initially survive this disease only around 5% will survive it past the five-year mark. In 2008 my Uncle was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at the age of fifty and died 5 months later due to the disease. Thus, research for this unknown killer is extremely important in order to aid those who contract the disease as well as assist those who have not yet developed this form of cancer in preventing its development.(1). Near the end of his fight with the cancer Swayze admitted, “"What winning is to me is not giving up, not matter what's thrown at me. And I can keep going."