Pancreatic Cancer Risk May Be Reduced With Vitamins C, E and Mineral Selenium

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Well here’s a surprise – Higher intakes of the antioxidants vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium could possibly cut the risk of developing pancreatic cancer by up to 67%, according to a study published in Gut.[1] Pancreatic cancer kills more than 250,000 people a year worldwide and has the worst survival rate of any tumour.



Participants eating higher intakes of all of these micronutrients were 67% less likely to develop pancreatic cancer than those eating lower amounts.

For selenium, the effect size was large with an approximately halving of the risk with greater intakes, and for vitamin E, there was a slightly smaller effect of borderline statistical significance. For vitamin C, inverse associations were seen in the data from both the food diaries and serum, although only the latter was statistically significant.

Genetics, smoking tobacco, and type 2 diabetes are known risk factors for pancreatic cancer, and antioxidants also may play a role by stimulating the immune system by inactivating free radicals and reducing oxidative stress, the researchers write.

In summary, the researchers conclude;

This prospective cohort study, using dietary antioxidant data, derived for the first time from food diaries, demonstrated inverse associations with total dietary antioxidant intake, selenium and vitamin E. A role for vitamin C was supported by the serum analysis with large effect sizes.


The role of micronutrients in the prevention of common cancers continues to provide somewhat controversial research studies, in this case utilising diaries as the means of determining accurate food intake is a notoriously unreliable method of data collection. However, the trends are clear, doses of certain micronutrients above those needed to avoid deficiency states may confer unique health benefits that far exceed any real or perceived risks.

[1] Banim PJ, Luben R, McTaggart A, Welch A, Wareham N, Khaw KT, Hart AR. Dietary antioxidants and the aetiology of pancreatic cancer: a cohort study using data from food diaries and biomarkers. Gut. 2012 Jul 23. View Abstract

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