Impact of dietary fat composition and quantity in pancreatic carcinogenesis: Recent advances and controversies

Joanna Wirkus, Aya S. Ead, Gerardo G. Mackenzie

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


A significant number of pancreatic cancer cases are due to modifiable risk factors, with many being attributed to increased body fatness. This has sparked investigators to examine the role played by high dietary fat intake in pancreatic cancer development and the mechanisms driving this connection. However, there is currently no consensus on how dietary fat quantity and composition specifically affect pancreatic carcinogenesis. The objective of this narrative review is to discuss the link between high total fat consumption and fatty acid composition (saturated, mono-, or poly-unsaturated fats) with pancreatic cancer incidence and progression. Following our detailed analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of recent preclinical and human studies, we discuss existing research gaps and opportunities, and provide recommendations for future studies. Numerous studies suggest that diets high in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are associated with reduced pancreatic cancer risk. However, the current evidence appears insufficient for a general conclusion regarding the impact of other types of fat in pancreatic carcinogenesis, with many studies providing inconclusive findings due to study limitations. Thus, we recommend future studies to include detailed methodology of the animal experiments, not limited to the diet composition, type of ingredients, formulations, and administration of the diets. Moreover, human studies should include a diverse population and well-characterized biomarkers for accurate determination of dietary fat intake. Ultimately, this will aid the study rigor, and improve our understanding of the impact of fat quantity and composition in pancreatic carcinogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalNutrition Research
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Diet
  • Fat
  • Lipids
  • Obesity
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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