Illustration of the pancreas. The pancreas produces an exocrine secretion that neutralizes acid to prevent damage to the duodenal mucosa of the small intestine. It also breaks down proteins, fats and starch so that their constituents can be absorbed into the blood. The role the pancreas plays is so vital that insufficient exocrine secretion by the pancreas leads to starvation, even if adequate quantities of high quality food are consumed. The pancreas is also an endocrine organ. The major hormones it secretes - insulin and glucagon - are key to carbohydrate and lipid metabolism. They help the body maintain normal blood concentrations of glucose.

Credit: John M. Daugherty / Science Source

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