About the pancreas

The pancreas is an organ behind the stomach which helps to control blood glucose by producing insulin.

The pancreas is an organ behind the stomach that helps to control blood glucose by producing insulin. It also produces digestive juices and enzymes to break down food in the stomach.
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The pancreas is an organ found behind the stomach. It has two important functions. It helps to:

  • control blood glucose levels
  • digest food in the stomach.

The pancreas helps to control blood glucose levels by producing insulin when the amount of glucose (a type of sugar) in the blood increases — for instance after a meal. This insulin helps the glucose to move out of the blood and into the body’s cells so that the cells can use the glucose as an energy source, during exercise for example. The insulin also helps to store any excess glucose in the liver and in the fatty (adipose) tissues of the body.

Pancreatic disease (chronic pancreatitis) or damage to the pancreas, in particular to the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, can cause diabetes. This means that the pancreas makes less insulin, resulting in higher than normal blood glucose levels.

The pancreas also produces digestive juices and enzymes to break down partially digested food in the stomach.

References
  • Craig ME, Twigg SM, Donaghue KC, et al for the Australian Type 1 Diabetes Guidelines Expert Advisory Group. National evidence-based clinical care guidelines for type 1 diabetes in children, adolescents and adults. Canberra: Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, 2011. www.diabetessociety.com.au/downloads/ Type1guidelines14Nov2011.pdf (accessed 15 November 2011).
  • Type 2 diabetes: priorities and targets. NPS NEWS (www.nps.org.au/health_professionals/publications/nps_news/current/type_2_diabetes_priorities_targets)
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