Background: Scanty and inconsistent studies are available on the relation between dietary fiber intake and pancreatic cancer. A case–control study was carried out in northern Italy to further investigate the role of various types of dietary fibers in the etiology of pancreatic cancer.
Patients and methods: Cases were 326 patients with incident pancreatic cancer, excluding neuroendocrine tumors, admitted to major teaching and general hospitals during 1991–2008. Controls were 652 patients admitted for acute, nonneoplastic conditions to the same hospital network of cases. Information was elicited using a validated food frequency questionnaire. Odds ratios (ORs) and the corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated for intake quintiles of different types of fiber after allowance for total energy intake and other potential confounding factors.
Results: Total fiber intake was inversely related to risk of pancreatic cancer (OR = 0.4 for highest versus lowest quintile of intake; 95% CI 0.2–0.7). An inverse association emerged between pancreatic cancer and both soluble (OR = 0.4; 95% CI 0.2–0.7) and total insoluble fiber (OR = 0.5; 95% CI 0.3–0.8), particularly cellulose (OR = 0.4; 95% CI 0.3–0.7) and lignin (OR = 0.5; 95% CI 0.3–0.9). Fruit fiber intake was inversely associated with pancreatic cancer (OR = 0.5; 95% CI 0.3–0.8), whereas grain fiber was not (OR = 1.2; 95% CI 0.7–2.0).
Conclusions: This study suggests that selected types of fiber and total fiber are inversely related to pancreatic cancer.