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If there is one thing in life that we need to take absolutely serious care of, it has to be our health. Researches have shown that the human body works best when it is performing at a 100. When your well-being is prioritised, your mood and outlooks on life will also turn out to be positive. You might even wake up in the morning humming to Louis Armstrong’s What A Wonderful World.
As humans, especially when we are young, it is easy to neglect the health of our internal organs. Remember, just because they are not visible to the naked eyes, it does not mean that we should take them for granted. One of the most vital yet underrated organs in the human body, for instance, is the pancreas.
It is essentially a six-inch gland that sits deep behind the abdomen and the stomach. Surrounded by other organs such as the liver, spleen, small intestine and gallbladder, the pancreas serves two main functions.
Its exocrine cells produce enzymes that break down the proteins, lipids, carbohydrates and nucleic acids from food items, thus easing the process of digestion. Meanwhile, its endocrine cells produce several important hormones such as insulin and glucagon which are instrumental to regulate and maintain the body’s sugar levels. Suffice to say that if your pancreas starts to fail, you will probably not be able to enjoy your favorite meal the same way again.
Here are the most common health disorders related to the pancreas:
1) Acute pancreatitis
This is a condition where the pancreas becomes inflamed. While most of the time the cause is unknown, acute pancreatitis is typically prompted by gallstones and excessive consumption of alcohol. Most patients will start feeling better within a few weeks after seeking treatments.
2) Chronic pancreatitis
When the inflammation occurs repeatedly, it will permanently damage the pancreas thus forbidding it from serving its true functions. When this happens, obe’s ability to digest food and make pancreatic hormones will likely be impaired. According to the UK’s National Health Survey, chronic pancreatitis usually develops between the ages of 30 and 40 as a result of heavy drinking over many years.
3) Hereditary pancreatitis
This is a rare condition where the pancreas suffers episodes of inflammation, influenced by solely genetics. Early symptoms can be spotted in the early years but the symptoms may progress into acute pancreatitis as the patient enters adulthood. Patients are also strongly advised to steer away from bad lifestyle habits that could increase the risks of pancreatic cancer.
4) Pancreatic cancer
When there is an abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells in the pancreas, which is when pancreatic cancer happens. Treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), pancreatic cancer caused 156 deaths in Cambodia in 2017. That roughly translates to 1 of every 526 deaths in the Kingdom. While it is not the leading cause of death in Cambodia, it is still important to place safeguards to ensure a continuously healthy, cancer-free life.
As we have previously discussed, the pancreas is responsible for producing insulin – a hormone needed to regulate the blood sugar level. When a pancreas malfunctions, this puts the patient at risks of having a high amount of glucose in their bloodstreams resulting in diabetes.
Potential signs of pancreatic problems
Considering its ‘location’, there is no sure-fire way to ensure our pancreas is functioning without any glitches. Therefore, we have to listen to our body and watch out for the signs:
– Loss of appetite
– Weight loss
– Stomach and back pain
– Nausea and vomiting
Should you experience any of these symptoms, please consult a medical professional promptly to rule out pancreatic-related disorders.
The do’s and don’ts
1. Go slow on the alcohol
Nothing good ever comes from alcohol abuse therefore it is highly advisable to go easy on the drinks. Heavy alcohol intake may induce chronic pancreatitis, which has been indicated as a risk factor for pancreatic cancer.
2. Stub out that cigarette
According to a report by WebMD, smokers are approximately twice as likely as non-smokers to develop pancreatic cancer. If you quit today, the risk will reduce steadily before reverting back to the same level as non-smokers in 10 to 15 years.
3. Eat a balanced diet
A single perfect diet that could completely eliminate the risks does not exist. However, Columbia University’s Pancreas Center recommends a diet high in lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. It also suggests cutting back on greasy fried food.
4. Sweat it out
A sedentary lifestyle could be the root of many health complications including obesity, which subsequently is a risk factor for pancreatic cancer. Studies have suggested that a regular workout regime of approximately three times a week could bring the risk down to roughly half.
If you want to do more for yourself and your loved ones, contact AIA Cambodia at 086 999 242 to inquire further about their life insurance solution which covers 26 conditions of critical illnesses and medical operations in Cambodia and overseas.
Sources: National Pancreas Foundation, Healthline, World Health Organisation, WebMD, Medline Plus, Mayo Clinic, Live Science.