Scientific studies have shown that excessive alcohol drinking leads to chronic pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas. When inflammation occurs, inflammatory cells secrete growth factors and toxins. After many years of chronic inflammation in the pancreas, these growth factors and toxins cause genetic damage and uncontrolled growth of pancreatic cells. This can lead to pancreatic cancer. It is important to note that it takes many years of chronic pancreatitis to increase risk for pancreatic cancer.
It is not clear how much alcohol causes chronic pancreatitis. Some experts recommend avoiding drinking more than 1 drink a day for women and more than 2 drinks a day for men. However, chronic pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer is associated with large amounts of alcohol taken over a long period of time.