Most people don’t think much about the pancreas, but it is incredibly important. The pancreas is located deep in the abdomen, behind the stomach. It is actually a large gland, which means that it can make hormones and secrete them into the bloodstream.
The most famous hormone made by the pancreas is insulin. Insulin does so much more than just lower blood sugar–it is the master growth hormone. The other hormone made by the pancreas is glucagon, which works with insulin to regulate metabolism.
The pancreas also makes pancreatic enzymes, which are required to digest food. These critical enzymes, which are released into the intestine via a tiny duct, include lipase, which breaks down fats, protease, which breaks down proteins, and amylase, which breaks down starches.
The most important conditions affecting the pancreas include: Type I Diabetes, Type II Diabetes, Pancreatitis, Pancreatic insufficiency, and Pancreatic cancer.