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The pancreas is an organ located in the upper abdomen behind the stomach.  It is about 6-10 inches long and shaped like a fish with a “head” and a “tail” connected by a midsection called “the body of the pancreas”.   The two main functions of the pancreas:  1-secretes enzymes that are important for digestion 2- manufactures and secretes insulin that is vital for glucose metabolism.

Damage to the pancreas may occur from excessive alcohol usage and this is the most common cause of pancreatitis.  This can be a life-threatening situation and often requires hospitalization.  Another major cause of pancreatitis is gallstones obstructing the duct from the pancreas that leads to the intestines.

A much-dreaded diagnosis is pancreatic cancer.  Unlike many other cancers that are readily treatable, pancreatic cancer carries a very high mortality rate, with most people dying within several years of diagnosis.  When the cancer starts at the head of the pancreas there is a better chance of treatment being effective.

Obesity causes a heightened risk of developing pancreatitis as well as an increase in risk of developing pancreatic cancer.  Concerning pancreatitis, obesity increases the risk of developing gallstones, and as mentioned, gallstone-induced pancreatitis ranks second to excessive alcohol usage as a cause of pancreatitis.  Focusing on pancreatic cancer, the rate of this cancer has been rising since the early 2000s correlating with the increasing rate of obesity.

There are many organs and systems in the body adversely impacted by poor weight control.  Count the pancreas as one of these vital organs that will be “healthier” with better weight control.