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What's the Pancreas?

Inspired by my Type 1 Diabetic brother, my curiosity and fascination of the human body started at a young age. Words like PDM, glucose, blood sugar, and pancreas became a part of my vocabulary at the age of 7. But, I never really understood what a pancreas was and its significance to the human body.

So....what exactly is a pancreas?

The pancreas is an organ located in the stomach. It is surrounded by the spleen, small intestine, and liver. Its function is to convert the food we eat into fuel for the body’s cells. Its main two functions include aiding in digestion (exocrine function) and regulating blood sugar (endocrine).


There are enzymes that include trypsin and chymotrypsin that digest proteins, amylase for carbohydrates, and lipase to break down fats.

When food enters the stomach, the pancreatic juices all culminate in the pancreatic duct.


Releases important hormones directly into the bloodstream

Two of the main pancreatic hormones:

1. insulin: acts to lower blood sugar

2. glucagon: acts to raise blood sugar

Why is this function important for other organs?

Maintains proper blood levels for the brain, liver, and kidneys.


  • Pancreatitis

  • Pancreatic Cancer

  • Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Most common treatments:

Pain medicine, antibiotics

Hospital treatment of intravenous (IV) fluids

Cholecystectomy: removing of gallbladder

(Last but not least) Pancreas transplant


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