'Not all chronic pancreatitis related to alcohol abuse'

Dr. Amitava Roy
(Gastroenterologist & Health columnist)

It's believed that chronic pancreatitis (CP) is caused mainly due to excessive drinking, but a new study has found that the inflammation of the pancreas is not always alcohol-induced. Is it something new piece of information or bite of news? Across ages alcohol had been leading cause of pancreatitis. When a child or women becomes victim of pancreatitis, many pundits will frown and also may melt their brown fat to set logic behind it.

Sujeeth complained regarding traumatizing experience of undergoing intense scrutiny and serial disbelieve by care givers during his 3 days stay in a state hospital. He was admitted with an agonizing abdominal pain on last April in surgery ward. He literally has to produce previous medical documents and almost like plead not guilty of taking alcohol. 

The rate of alcohol-related CP is lower when compared to other causes, according to the study published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association.

Researchers who carried out the study said patients with no identifiable cause for their disease as well as those with non-alcohol-related causes represent an unexpectedly large subgroup, particularly among women and children.

"One of the more remarkable observations is that in more than 50 per cent of patients, alcohol was not considered as the causative factor of chronic pancreatitis," said Gregory Cote, of Indiana University School of Medicine, who led the study.

"Future analyses will likely identify previously unrecognised genetic factors and/or interaction between genes and environmental factors as potential explanations of disease development".

"In the meantime, the era of dismissing all cases of chronic pancreatitis as alcohol-induced has undoubtedly come to a close."

CP is an inflammation of the pancreas - the organ that produces insulin and glucagon and enzymes needed to digest food - that does not heal or improve, gets worse over time, and leads to permanent damage.

When inflammation occurs, the organ fails to produce right amount of these enzymes and hormones, making the body unable to digest food. Damage to the portions of the pancreas that make insulin may lead to diabetes and indigestion.

The North American Pancreatitis Study group was designed for further understanding of the role of gene-environment interactions in patients with recurrent acute pancreatitis and CP.

Doctors observed that the current etiologic profile of CP patients evaluated at US referral centers is quite different from historical data.

Although alcohol remains the most common cause, a larger fraction of patients was considered to have non-alcoholic aetiologies, and in more than a quarter of patients, no identifiable cause of disease (idiopathic CP) was found.Among the risk factors assessed, smoking was independently associated with idiopathic CP.

Pancreatitis usually begins as a sudden attack. When the pancreas becomes inflamed, its digestive enzymes attack the tissue that produces them. One of these enzymes, called trypsin, can cause tissue damage and bleeding, which may cause the pancreas tissue cells and blood vessels to swell.

In some cases, the attacks may recur frequently over time, which is known as CP. The onset of CP remains hard to define. Sujeeth had fresh attack of pain last week. This time I am going to rely on high dose of "Methionine" enriched antioxidant pills to take care of his pain (the painkillers should only be used sparingly). Researchers have proven a high dose of antioxidant is a trump card in treating pancreatic disorders.

Next time when your near relative or friend suffers an intense painful episode of pancreatitis, do not forget to carry this article if you want to declare him to be innocent and can prevent tarnishing of his social image.

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