Pancreas Facts



  • The pancreas is a large, carrot shaped gland which lies just below your stomach.
  • The larger end of the pancreas is on the right, tucking into the gut. The tail end is on the left, touching your spleen.
  • The pancreas is made from a substance called exocrine tissue, embedded with hundreds of nests of hormone glands called the islets of Langerhans.
  • The exocrine tissue secretes (releases) pancreatic enzymes.
  • This is a microscopic view of the pancreas, such as amylase into the intestine to help digest food purple) embedded in the exocrine tissue with the islets of Langerhans shown.
  • Amylase breaks down carbohydrates into simple sugars such as maltose, lactose and sucrose.
  • The pancreatic enzymes run into the intestine via a pipe called the pancreatic duct, which joins on to the bile duct. This duct also carries bile.
  • Diabetics, who suffer from the condition diabetes, produce little or no insulin in their pancreas. They control their blood glucose by injecting insulin, without which they might not survive.
  • The pancreatic enzymes only start working when they meet other kinds of enzyme in the intestine.
  • The pancreas also secretes the body’s own antacid, sodium bicarbonate, to settle an upset stomach.
  • The islets of Langerhans secrete two important hormones, which are insulin and glucagon.
  • Insulin and glucagon regulate blood sugar levels.