During my two decades in general practice in Sydney, I served as head of the biochemistry and nutrition departments at the two colleges where, sequentially, I taught. As such, I had to include the role of the pancreas in my lectures as far as it was relevant. It turned out, it was very relevant. The pancreas impacts on sugar intake and metabolism and also on the digestion and absorption of food and nutrients. Clearly, both have a bearing on nutrition and could best be understood if I also explored and explained the biochemistry and physiology involved.
Two decades ago, when I returned to London and focused on cancer support, the pancreas again took centre stage. Although the pancreas is considered one organ, it essentially has two separate functions which are neatly divided into two separate roles.
One half of the pancreas is the endocrine pancreas. ‘Endo’ meaning internal or within, relates to the fact that output from this part of the pancreas goes around the ‘internal’ body, through the bloodstream, and reaches and acts on all the organs and cells. Its output includes two hormones, insulin and glucagon. These two hormones focus on the control of blood sugar (glucose) levels throughout the body.
The other half of the pancreas is the exocrine pancreas. ‘Exo’ meaning outside, or external, relates to the fact that output from this part of the pancreas goes to the digestive tract. In effect, this is a hollow tube that flows through the centre of the body, from mouth to anus. If you swallow a dried corn kernel, for instance (which is very difficult to digest), it will travel straight through and come out the other end, essentially intact. It will not have entered the bloodstream or become an intimate part of the body. The exocrine pancreas secretes digestive enzymes and sends them into this ‘tube’. They act on the food that has been eaten and flow down through the rest of the digestive tract.
Until recently, it was thought that enzymes which are proteins, would also be digested within the digestive tract. However, we now understand that these enzymes are not necessarily ‘digested’ but can also be absorbed into the bloodstream, but only after they are first activated in the duodenum, and do their work of digesting any food that is present in the duodenum and small intestine.
I had reason to consider this when focusing on cancer and the work of Dr John Beard [to be discussed in a future Note]. It occurred to me that there is an interesting parallel between diabetes and cancer.
- Characterised by a pancreatic deficiency of the endocrine hormone insulin
- Which is triggered by an excess of sugars and
- Aggravated by a deficiency of essential nutrients (chromium, vanadium, vitamin B 3 and B complex in general) needed for normal blood sugar management
- Worsened by some of the 85,000 man-made chemicals, arguably mostly toxins pumped into our environment
- And further exacerbated by stress
- Characterised by a pancreatic deficiency of the exocrine pancreatic enzymes, trypsin, chymotrypsin and amylase
- Triggered by an excess of sugars
- Aggravated by a deficiency of essential nutrients (many B vitamins, lipoic acid, CoQ-10 and others) needed for normal mitochondrial function
- Worsened by many of the 85,000 man-made chemicals, arguably mostly toxins pumped into our environment
- And further exacerbated by stress
Why is this of interest?
The role played by a lack of insulin in diabetes was discovered by the medical profession.
Doctors adopted the use of the hormone insulin as part of a maintenance program. Insulin is now regularly used in the medical treatment of diabetes in order to avoid the side-effects including reduced circulation to the extremities, the risk of gangrene and amputations, reduced kidney function, worsening eyesight, and more.
The role played by a lack of digestive enzymes in cancer was discovered by an embryologist and a dentist. It was not discovered by medical doctors. The medical profession spurns digestive enzymes (trypsin, chymotrypsin and amylase) as a part of the treatment for cancer. This results in the continuation of the consequences of cancer including ongoing growth, metastasis and the use and side effects of radiation and chemotherapy.
It is interesting to wonder what would have happened had the situation been reversed.
Had the role of the exocrine pancreatic enzymes been discovered and adopted by a medical doctor, rather than by an embryologist and a dentist, would mainstream doctors regularly be prescribing pancreatic extracts (with its enzymes) to people with cancer? Would cancer be better controlled and less feared than it is now? Would people suffering from the disease be assured they could live a long and healthy life provided they took the enzymes?
Had the role of the endocrine pancreatic hormone, insulin, been discovered by an embryologist and a dentist, and not adopted by the medical profession, would diabetes be the much more traumatic and greatly feared disease than cancer? Would doctors, refusing to use the hormone, now be focused on improving surgery for gangrene, improving methods of heart, kidney and eyesight support, while recognising that an early death from diabetes was likely, despite all medicine could do?
Would cancer be a much less feared disease now, than diabetes?
Would diabetes be a more feared disease than cancer?
Had both options been followed, would both diabetes and cancer be amenable to control by:
- Avoiding an excessive intake of sugar
- Ensuring a fully adequate supply of all the essential nutrients (arguably numbered in the hundreds, not just a few dozen)
- A reduction in exposure to toxins, accompanied by efforts to increase the body’s processing and elimination of toxins
- Reduction of stress, or a better understanding of stress management
Food for thought – and/or recovery.
To learn more of the work of Dr Beard the dentist, and the role of pancreatic enzymes, discussed in this Note, watch out for future Notes in which these topics will be discussed.
Additionally, if you are a practitioner or student and would like to learn more in depth, please inquire about our Advanced Cancer Care Course starting in October 2018. DrXKW