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The Pancreas


Major Spencer
The pancreas is a solid organ that sits just behind the stomach. It helps break down carbohydrates, fats, and protein. Dr. Patel, can you tell us more about the pancreas?

Dr. Patel
Sure thing, Major Spencer. The pancreas has two kinds of cells: exocrine cells and neuroendocrine cells. Exocrine cells produce a digestive juice that contains several enzymes to break down carbohydrates, fats, and protein. This digestive juice is delivered to the first section of the small intestine, called the duodenum, through small tubes called ducts.

Neuroendocrine cells in the pancreas produce hormones, such as insulin and glucagon. Insulin helps the body's cells absorb glucose, and glucagon stimulates the liver to release its stores of extra glucose, called glycogen. Glucose molecules, which are the final result of starches and carbohydrates broken down by the small intestine, are the body's main source of energy.