The pancreas is a flat, pear-shaped gland behind the stomach, in the abdominal cavity. Approximately six inches long, it lies beside the liver, gallbladder, spleen, and small intestine. Not only does it play an important role in converting food into fuel, but it also produces and secretes hormones as part of the endocrine system. Often underappreciated, the pancreas carries out various functions, all of which are essential for health.
The pancreas is unique in that it is involved in both the digestive and endocrine systems. As part of the former, it secretes various enzymes into the small intestine, which help to break down food into smaller components for proper digestion and absorption. As an endocrine gland, it secretes two hormones that are crucial for metabolism in the body.
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