Eating two portions of whole grains a day could almost halve the risk of developing pancreatic cancer, research shows.
The cancer is one of the deadliest forms of the disease, claiming the lives of around 7,000 Britons a year and killing 95 percent of patients within two years.
But research has shown a diet rich in wholemeal bread, brown rice and other whole grain foods could bring about a substantial reduction in the risk of developing it.
A study of more than 2,000 men and women revealed a clear link between the amount of whole grains eaten and the chance of developing pancreatic cancer.
Those who ate at least two helpings of whole grains a day - the equivalent of a cup of brown rice or porridge, or two slices of wholemeal bread - were 40 percent less likely to develop the disease than those who ate less than one portion.
The study, which was carried out by the University of California, San Francisco, also noted that those who ate more than 0.9oz (26.5g) of fibre a day were 35 per cent less likely to develop pancreatic cancer than those who ate less than 0.6oz (15.6g).
The researchers said: "There is a possibility that diet can affect one's risk of pancreatic, as well as other cancers."
"Eating a diet rich in a wide variety of grains is likely not only to help in the prevention of diabetes and heart disease, but also this very deadly cancer."
However, eating more refined and sweetened grains - such as two or more servings of doughnuts a week - was found to raise the risk of pancreatic cancer.
Dr June Chan, who led the research, said: "The risk reductions associated with some whole grain foods and fibre provide general support for the hypothesis that eating whole grains is much better than eating more refined and sweetened grains for pancreatic cancer prevention."
Pancreatic cancer kills the vast majority of sufferers, typically within two years of diagnosis. In the UK, there are 6,990 new cases a year, almost matched by the 6,760 deaths. The average survival after surgery is 14-15 months.
Luciano Pavarotti died of the disease aged 71 earlier this year. About two thirds of all cases (63 percent) are diagnosed in people over the age of 70.
The study looked at grain intake among 532 people with pancreatic cancer and 1,701 people without the disease among the San Francisco Bay area population.
The two groups were similar in age, gender, and body weight, and had a similar history of diabetes, the American Journal of Epidemiology reports.
Those with pancreatic cancer were also more likely to be current smokers.
(Agencies via China Daily November 28, 2007)