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Who is more likely to get pancreatic cancer?

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People with any of the risk factors are at slightly higher risk than the general population:

  • Genetics. Five percent to 10% of people with pancreatic cancer have an immediate family member who also had it. Several different genes have been associated with the increased risk, although no "pancreatic cancer gene" has yet been identified.
  • Diabetes. People with diabetes are not necessarily more likely to get pancreatic cancer but the two have been linked.
  • Smoking. Cigarette smoking is well known to increase the risk for pancreatic cancer. The more a person smokes, the higher the risk. Ten years after quitting smoking, the risk returns to about that of someone who never smoked.
  • Obesity and inactivity. In a study of 88,000 nurses, those who were obese (body mass index higher than 30) were more likely to develop pancreatic cancer. Those who exercised frequently were about half as likely to get pancreatic cancer, compared to those who did not exercise at all.
  • Pancreatic cysts and chronic pancreatitis. People who have one or both of these are at higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
  • Diet. A diet high in fat and meat (especially smoked or processed meat) has been linked to pancreatic cancer in animal studies. Eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables decreased pancreatic cancer risk in other studies. Still other studies suggest there's no identifiable link between diet and pancreatic cancer.
  • Lycopene and selenium. Studies have shown low levels of these nutrients in some people who developed pancreatic cancer. That's not proof that low levels of lycopene and selenium cause pancreatic cancer, though. Any diet that includes lean meat and red or yellow vegetables should provide adequate lycopene and selenium.

SOURCES:

Klein A.P. , July-August 2001; vol 7: pp 266-73. The Cancer Journal

Tersmette A.C. March 2001; vol 7: pp 738-44. Clinical Cancer Research,

Fuchs C.S. , Oct. 28, 1996; vol 156: pp 2255-60. Archives of Internal Medicine

Chari S.T. . January 2008; vol 134: pp 95-101. Gastroenterology

Michaud D.S. , Aug. 22-29, 2001; vol 286: pp 921-9. The Journal of the American Medical Association

Michaud D.S. , April 6, 2005; vol 97: pp 518-24. Journal of the National Cancer Institute

Reviewed by Minesh Khatri on July 24, 2017

SOURCES:

Klein A.P. , July-August 2001; vol 7: pp 266-73. The Cancer Journal

Tersmette A.C. March 2001; vol 7: pp 738-44. Clinical Cancer Research,

Fuchs C.S. , Oct. 28, 1996; vol 156: pp 2255-60. Archives of Internal Medicine

Chari S.T. . January 2008; vol 134: pp 95-101. Gastroenterology

Michaud D.S. , Aug. 22-29, 2001; vol 286: pp 921-9. The Journal of the American Medical Association

Michaud D.S. , April 6, 2005; vol 97: pp 518-24. Journal of the National Cancer Institute

Reviewed by Minesh Khatri on July 24, 2017

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What can you do to prevent pancreatic cancer?

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