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Low Adiponectin (fat cell) Hormone Associated with Pancreatic Cancer Risk

Harvard researchers led by Ying Bao, MD, ScD (Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School) published an article last week in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute with an intriguing finding.  In looking at 468 pancreatic cancer patients against 1080 matched control subjects, they found that the fat cell secreted hormone adiponectin (in serum) was lower in the patient group (6.2 vs. 6.8 µg/mL). This finding held for each of the five groups of patients that they studied.


Low adiponectin in blood being associated with higher risk – implies that abnormal glucose and/or fat metabolism may be a contributor to the growth of pancreatic cancer tissue.  The findings of this preliminary study lends itself better understanding the origins of pancreatic cancer, and further research for earlier diagnosis and even treatment.


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Dale O’Brien, MD

New Easier BLOD Test to Help Evaluate Carcinoid and Neuroendocrine Tumors

One of the standard tests to try to diagnose carcinoid and neuroendocrine tumors has been the 5-HIAA test – which required a 24-hour sample of urine.  This was often messy, inconvenient, embarrassing, and consequently sometimes inaccurate.


The term 5-HIAA stands for 5-Hydroxyindoleacetic acid which is a main metabolite of serotonin – and which is typically found in large quantities in those with tumors such as carcinoid.


Researchers from University of Iowa, Eastern Virginia Medical School, and Louisiana State University have developed a blood test that can establish 5-HIAA plasma levels.  Further, they found that this fasting 5-HIAA blood level is proportionate to the 24-hour urinary levels – giving similar useful clinical information without the hassles of the urine test.



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Dale O’Brien, MD

Other Reasons Not to Smoke

It’s thought that about 30-40% of cases of pancreatic cancer may be attributable to smoking tobacco.   Now comes more research about additional possible bad effects of smoking.


Brand and colleagues from the University of Michigan recently published a study in the American Journal of Gastroenterology that showed that alcohol and tobacco use ~ in a dose related manner (more: makes it worse) ~ are each associated with an earlier age of the onset of pancreatic cancer.  This unfortunate effect appears to go away after about ten years of abstinence.


In a separate recent study in the European Journal of Cancer, Schuller and his colleagues at the University of Tennessee vet school found (in cells and in live mice) that tobacco smoke AND nicotine replacement therapy reduce the treatment effect of gemcitabine (one of the mainstays of chemotherapy in pancreatic cancer).  They suggest clinical studies in patients to further explore these research findings.



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Dale O’Brien, MD

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