Health Buzz: Deadly Pancreatic Cancer Grows Slowly

The trick to choosing the best Halloween treats; even 1 soda a day can hike your diabetes risk.

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Pancreatic Cancer Grows For Decades, Could Be Caught Earlier

Pancreatic cancer is deadly, killing at least 95 percent of its victims within five years of diagnosis. But the disease actually grows slowly and stealthily, for years or decades before it causes symptoms, according to a study published Wednesday in Nature. By then, it's usually too advanced to cure. Not aggressive cancers, pancreatic tumors take an average of 21 years to become fatal, the researchers say, but have typically spread by the time they are detected. For this reason, the average patient dies within two years of diagnosis. The new finding has some positive implications: "[It] provides a large window of opportunity to try to detect the presence of these cancers in the first 20 years of their existence, before they become lethal," study author Bert Vogelstein told Reuters. "If one can do that, one can in principle cure them by surgery."

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  • The Trick to Choosing the Best Halloween Treats

    When it comes to Halloween candy, even if it's costumed as a healthier choice (think chocolate-covered granola bars), nutrition experts say: Boooooo.

    "The bottom line is that no candy is good for you," says registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner, author of The Flexitarian Diet. "I don't care if it has one extra gram of fiber or protein. What we're talking about is indulgence, enjoyment, and empty calories. Enjoy the gluttony of the season, but maybe not for too long—just for a couple days or a week."

    Still, not all candies are equally bad, U.S. News reports. A snack-size Reese's Caramel Cup will cost you 100 calories, compared to 25 for a pack of Smarties. Sugar-free gum (no, it won't make you popular) protects against tooth decay, while hard and sticky candies increase that risk. And Skittles and Caramel Twix have more sugar than Milky Way and Baby Ruth bars.

    So consider these bite-size options when you're shopping for this year's trick-or-treaters—or sifting through your child's loot:

    Pixy Stix and Sweet Tarts. Both dissolve quickly, protecting against cavity-causing bacteria. Candy that melts and disappears quickly is best for your teeth—avoid hard treats that linger in your mouth, according to American Dental Association guidelines. The longer you spend chewing or sucking on candy, the greater the likelihood of tooth decay. Avoid sticky candies like gummy bears, which cling to your teeth and take longer to be washed away by saliva. [Read more: The Trick to Choosing the Best Halloween Treats.]

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    • Even 1 Soda a Day Can Hike Your Diabetes Risk

      A soda a day? That's not so bad—a 150-calorie blip, burned off with a brisk half-hour walk. But it's not only your waistline that's at stake, writes U.S. News's Hanna Dubansky. A study released Wednesday in the journal Diabetes Care found that people with a daily habit of just one or two sugar-sweetened beverages—anything from sodas and energy drinks to sweetened teas and vitamin water—were more than 25 percent likelier to develop type 2 diabetes than were similar individuals who had no more than one sugary drink per month. Since the overall rate of diabetes is roughly 1 in 10, an increase of 25 percent raises the risk to about 1 in 8. One-a-day guzzlers in the study also had a 20 percent higher rate of metabolic syndrome, a collection of indicators such as high triglyceride levels suggesting that diabetes is not far off.

      "Previous studies have shown that sugar-sweetened beverages are strongly associated with weight gain," says lead author Vasanti Malik, a research fellow in the Harvard School of Public Health Department of Nutrition, who says the decision to examine the relationship between sugar-sweetened beverages and risk of diabetes was "the logical next step." [Read more: Even 1 Soda a Day Can Hike Your Diabetes Risk.]