Health Topics

  1. #
  2. A
  3. B
  4. C
  5. D
  6. E
  7. F
  8. G
  9. H
  10. I
  11. J
  12. K
  13. L
  14. M
  15. N
  16. O
  17. P
  18. Q
  19. R
  20. S
  21. T
  22. U
  23. V
  24. W
  25. X
  26. Y
  27. Z
Browse All Topics

Largest Study Ever

The largest prospective nutrition study ever published suggests animal fat may play a role in the development of pancreatic cancer.

October 5, 2010 |
GD Star Rating


Supplementary Info

Sources Cited



Last year, … pancreatic cancer ate Patrick Swayze alive. Before him, it was Pavarroti. Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest cancers—less than 5% of victims even make it out 5 years. Thankfully it’s rare—only strikes down about 30, or 40… thousand Americans every year. But how do you study something that’s so rare? You bring to bear the largest study ever.
The NIH-AARP study is currently following a half million American men and women in their 50s and 60s. It is the largest forward-looking nutrition study ever conducted. What did we just learn from it about pancreatic cancer?
Well we’ve known pancreatic cancer was a lifestyle-related disease, related to smoking, and the dietary intake of fat, but what kind of fat? Enter: the NIH-AARP study.
What do you think they found? Who thinks pancreatic cancer is associated with beef fat? Bacon? Chicken? Fish? Dairy, Eggs? Anyone want to change their answer to none of the above? What about all of the above?
The answer, according to the largest such study ever, is, all of the above. Dietary fat of animal origin was associated with increased pancreatic cancer risk. What about dietary fat from plant origin? I covered up the rest of the conclusion so we could find out together.
Who thinks your typical vegetable oil is associated with pancreatic cancer? The plant fat largely found in nuts? The saturated fat found in chocolate and coconut milk? All of the above? None of the above?
Let’s look at the rest of the conclusion. Dietary fat of animal origin was associated with increased pancreatic cancer risk. … And that’s the end of the conclusion. Pancreatic cancer is significantly associated, with red meat… significantly associated with dairy… and when one adds in other meat, fish, and eggs, it makes the cancer connection even stronger.
But no association with plant fats. Conclusion: evidence of a role for animal fat in the development of pancreatic cancer, but no connection with any kind of fat from plant food sources.
What if we just eat animal foods that are low-fat, like skim milk. An even newer study out this year found an even stronger link between pancreatic cancer and animal protein—an even tighter correlation than with animal fat. Plant protein, on the other hand, appeared protective. Even animal sugars were associated with pancreatic cancer. There’s only one animal sugar—lactose. So animal fat, animal protein, and animal carbs—all independently associated with pancreatic cancer risk.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

To help out on the site please email

Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out the other videos on animal products. Also, there are 1,686 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos--please feel free to explore them as well!

For some context, please check out my associated blog post: Gerson Therapy for Cancer?

If you haven't yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out the other videos on animal products. Also, there are 1,449 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them as well!

  • Crone1960

    Thank you for this video. It is a bit chilling! So do you suspect that it is the way animals are farmed, fed and managed that is affecting so many people’s health, rather than the actual meat itself?

  • chewy

    are crabohydrates such as plain organic puffed rice(100% whole grain brown rice only ingredient) and plain unsalted organic brown rice cakes “safe” and healthy foods too?

    • Toxins

      These are indeed healthy foods. Just do not make it a staple of your diet as these foods tend to be cooked at high temperatures and when carbohydrates are cooked at high temperatures carcinogenic acrylamides tend to form.

  • chewy

    are these specific foods less acrylamide containing than say baked potatoes?

  • chewy

    thanks toxins. i am a vegan following the mcdougall plan

  • johnduda

    Thanks Dr. Greger, for an incredibly informative website. I do like to check some of the sources myself and thought readers might like to know that the NIH-AARP study was not in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology as suggested in the video, but rather the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (2009);101:1001-1011. Thanks again

  • JD Mumma

    The Mercola Fruit Phobia Kool Aid is now being served…

    Have you seen this myopic manipulation and misrepresentation of the facts by Joseph Mercola (I purposefully left off the Dr. part!)

    Eating only culinary fruit (aka sweet fruits) is NOT a Frutiarian diet nor the diet of Steve Jobs! “For about a month, I only ate fruit and carrot juice,” Ashton Kutcher on stage at Macworld actor said on stage at Macworld on Thursday January 31, 2013

    Many times I have found Dr Mercola’s articles to have a minimal amount of falliscious premises and conclusion BUT this article highlights his ignorance, poor research, assumptions, unscientific approach and fallacious biases! To make matters worse he tops it all off with an attempt to validate his premises with non-scientific actor/celebrity comments!

    Mercola seems to present the Ashton Kutcher anecdotal diet quotes as some kind of medical research hypothesis validation! WTFC (What THE Fruit Cake) Is he serious?!

    There are so many fallacies I gave up attempting to keep track!

    To those who pursue(d) an unbiases education in both food science and human biology I would guess they would qualify this article more as a biased PRODUCT SALES AD PAGE than a unbiased research article based on medical science!

    Here is just one example – Dr Mercola presents a fruitarian diet as an ALL fruit diet! WRONG! The Frutarian diet is no more all fruits than a Paleo Diet is all animal muscles diet!

    The vast majority of ‘educated’ followers of a Fruitarian diet more aligns with the botanical (science) definition of fruits and not the culinary definition of fruits. Examples of botanical ‘fruits’ that are derived from both the dehiscent and indehiscent type include (not a full list): Avocado, Coconut, Durian, Olive, Cucumber, Eggplant, Squash, Tomato (also an acid fruit), Bell Peppers, nuts, grains…

    To support either his ignorance and/or bias Mercola conveniently fails to note that when he lists foods in his “adding the correct types of fat” matrix that “Olives”, “coconuts”, “Raw nuts, such as, almonds or pecans”, “Avocados”, and the oils (from fruits) such as “Palm oil”, “Unheated organic nut oils”, “coconut oil”*, “Olive oil”* are ALL BOTANICALLY classified as FRUITS!!!

    *Note the included links for him selling these same products.

  • Jason Reagan

    I thought The China Study was the largest study ever…??


      Most comprehensive

  • beccadoggie10

    I am vegan, following Dr. Neal Barnard’s Foods That Fight Pain.

    Thanks to him and you, Dr. Greger, I have stayed on the diet, kept the weight loss off, and am struggling to lose more weight since I cannot exercise enough to actually burn calories. But, at least now I know how I can possibly prevent food related cancers by continually eating vegan.

    Thank you.

  • windwoman

    What about Steve Jobs, who was a strict vegan???

    • Gross Bro

      This video was done exactly one year before Steve died.

      Steve Jobs was a strict fruitarian for many years (hence the name of his company, Apple). What’s interesting is that when Ashton Kutcher was prepping for his role to play Steve Jobs in the movie Jobs, he also became a strict vegetarian. He soon wound up in the hospital with “messed up insulin levels and pancreas pain”.

      Coincidence? Probably, but you can’t rule anything out, and being a strict fruitarian is NOT healthy, period.

  • Totowa Wellness

    Find me one 3 generation vegan society existing today; it doesn’t exist. We need some clean meat, not the crap big agra is feeding us; you cannot get all the amino acids the body needs to repair itself.

    • JacquieRN

      Actually, you can get all the amino acids the body needs from plants. The nine essential amino acids, which cannot be produced by the body, must be obtained from the diet. A variety of grains, legumes, and vegetables can provide all of the essential amino acids our bodies require.

  • Danny B.

    What about Steve Jobs? He died of pancreatic cancer and he was vegan. Is there more to the story?

  • Sharyn Finn Bergman

    Hello Dr. Gregor~
    Thanks for this great information. My vegan husband and I enjoyed your talk at the E2 retreat in Chicago last month.
    My mother was just diagnosed with adenocarcinoma of the pancreas and is home recovering from Whipple surgery. She is a thin, non-smoker, but a meat eater and dairy consumer. It was an incidental finding and caught quite early, however my husband and I are clearly aware of the grim statistics. We showed your video to her and my stepdad. And while my mother is open to making some changes, my stepfather has asked that we refrain from discussing such changes any further as we are upsetting her and overwhelming her. I love my stepdad, but he is quite frightened. We have two oncologists in the family who have been tremendous in talking with my mom’s doctors but don’t understand our vegan lifestyle. When I asked the Hopkins surgeon about diet from here on, he told me he’d be pleased if she could keep down Doritos and a roast beef sandwich!! My husband and I have been feverishly cooking for my mom and stepdad and will bring more meals along with fresh turmeric over this evening.
    1. How do you suggest we navigate these waters?
    2. Do you know of any nutritional supplements other than Ensure that we can give her to help her put on weight as she is quite thin and on a low fat diet?
    3. Would your talk in Towson, Maryland on August 30th be of benefit to my stepdad? We have to proceed lightly so as not to turn him off completely.

    Thanks so very much in advance!

    • Thea

      Sharyn: You sure are in some tricky waters. I have a tiny suggestion in response to your third question. I think that Dr. Greger’s talks are terribly compelling, but I’m not in your stepdad’s shoes and you know your stepdad better than I. My guess is that you can essentially preview Dr. Greger’s talk, because I would *guess* that the August 30th talk is going to be a variant on his From Table To Able talk. You can see this now and see if you think it is compelling or not. Here is a link to the video:

      Also, you might consider watching Dr. Greger’s other two summary videos from previous years to see if you think that those talks are more likely to be compelling for your stepdad: (though I think that a live presentation is more engrossing and impressive than one on-line…)

      Another idea you might consider is showing your stepdad the video Forks Over Knives. It is a professional documentary that has had a big impact on many people.

      You really are in a tough spot. I like how your post was respectful about your stepdad’s position even as you must be terribly worried about your mom. It sounds like you are doing everything you can to help. I hope it all works out as best it can.