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The pancreas is a grayish-pink gland. Weighing about three ounces and measuring six to nine inches, it extends posteriorly from the small intestine to the spleen.

The pancreas functions both as an endocrine and exocrine gland. The greater part of the tissue is composed of endocrine cells arranged in a group called islet of langerhans. Within the islets, there are alpha cells which secrete glucagon and beta cells which secrete insulin. Both hormones are involved in regulating blood sugar levels.

The exocrine cells produce pancreatic juice, which is secreted through the common bile duct into the small intestines. The pancreatic juice is composed of enzymes and alkaline fluid. This fluid neutralizes stomach acids contained in food as it moves into the small intestine.

Gray, H. 1977. Gray's Anatomy. Crown Publishers, Inc, New York. 1257 pp.

Van Amerongen, C. The Way Things Work; Book Of The Body. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1979.