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Diabetes and the Pancreas

Diabetes and the Pancreas

C043/6319

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THEVISUALMD / SCIENCE SOURCE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY THEVISUALMD / SCIENCE SOURCE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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Editorial use only.

Caption

Medical visualization of the pancreas in the human body. The pancreas has two jobs. It helps to digest food by secreting digestive juices, and it secretes two hormones that keep blood sugar levels in a normal range. During digestion the stomach empties food into the first part of the small intestine. Pancreatic digestive juices, along with bile from the liver pour into the duodenum to help break down the food. A small amount of pancreatic tissue is made up of cells that produce hormones. The hormones are insulin and glucagon, and they have opposite effects. When the level of glucose in the blood is high, insulin signals certain cells to take glucose in. When glucose is low, glucagon signals the cells to release it. In this way, insulin and glucagon keep glucose level in a narrow, healthy range. This is a vital function, because when glucose levels are too low (hypoglycemia) or too high (hyperglycaemia), many serious disorders can result, including type 2 diabetes.

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