Age-adjusted mortality from pancreatic cancer increased NINE-FOLD in japan from 1950 to 1995 – Was a low-protein quasi-vegan diet a key factor in their former low risk?

Mark F. McCarty*, Simon Iloki Assanga, Lidianys Lewis Lujan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

During the last half of the twentieth century, age-adjusted mortality from pancreatic cancer in Japan rose about nine-fold in both sexes. Well-characterized risk factors such as smoking, obesity/metabolic syndrome, and heavy alcohol use appear to explain only a modest part of this rise. It is proposed that a diet relatively low in protein, and particularly low in animal protein, was a key determinant of the low risk for pancreatic cancer in mid-century Japan. It is further proposed that pancreatic acinar cells, owing to their extraordinarily high rate of protein synthesis, are at high risk for ER stress; that such stress plays a fundamental role in the induction of most pancreatic cancers; and that low-protein diets help to offset such stress by modulating activities of the kinases GCN2 and mTORC1 while increasing autocrine and systemic production of fibroblast growth factor 21. This model appears to clarify the role of various risk factors and protective factors in pancreatic cancer induction. A vegan or quasi-vegan low-protein diet may have broader potential for decreasing risk for a range of common “Western” cancers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110518
JournalMedical Hypotheses
Volume149
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd

Keywords

  • Acinar cells
  • ER stress
  • FGF21
  • GCN2
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Vegan diet

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