By naturopath Margaret Jasinska
We write a lot about fatty liver because it’s an extremely common condition that can raise your risk of some serious diseases. Fatty pancreas is also becoming increasingly prevalent. A lot of people with a fatty liver also have a fatty pancreas, but it’s rarely spoken about.
Fatty liver has reached epidemic proportions, with approximately one in four people in most western nations affected. An interesting review article recently appeared in the British Medical Journal called Non-alcoholic fatty pancreas disease. To quote the article, fatty pancreas “appears to arise as obesity progresses and after an initial phase of pancreatic hypertrophy and hyperplasia, fatty infiltration becomes apparent. Various studies have demonstrated that non-alcoholic fatty pancreas disease may exacerbate the severity of acute pancreatitis, promote pancreatic dysfunction associated with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, and even have links to the development of pancreatic carcinoma, and therefore, it must be investigated in further detail”. Fatty pancreas should be taken seriously!
It occurs most commonly in overweight people who have syndrome X (insulin resistance/prediabetes). It often goes hand in hand with type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetics who develop a fatty pancreas are more at risk of needing to go on insulin.
If normal, healthy pancreatic tissue is replaced by fatty tissue, it can no longer manufacture sufficient hormones or digestive enzymes. Frighteningly, fatty pancreas increases the risk of pancreatic cancer. Rates of pancreatic cancer are rising sharply and it is not a very survivable form of cancer in most instances.