Certain factors may increase your chances of developing pancreatic cancer.
Risk Factors include:
- Cigarette smoking
- Chronic inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
- Family history (five to 10 percent of pancreatic cancers are inherited)
- Age (most cases develop between age 60 and 80)
- Gender (it is more common in men)
- African Americans also have higher incidences
- Individuals of Jewish descent are prone to an inherited mutation in the BRCA2 gene
- Peptic ulcer surgery
- Diets high in meats and cholesterol-laden, fried foods
Knowing your family history of disease is important. Up to 10 percent of pancreatic cancers are inherited from parent to child. We are learning about specific instructions in DNA, called genes, that are associated with inherited cancers.
Individuals with 2 or more first degree relatives (parent, sibling, or child) who have had pancreatic cancer have an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
Individuals with 3 or more close relatives (aunts, uncles, grandparents) are also at risk.
Johns Hopkins experts are studying family risk and causes for pancreatic cancer. The National Familial Pancreas Tumor Registry at Johns Hopkins began in 1994 when the importance of familial clustering and pancreatic cancer was recognized. We believe that there is likely to be a genetic cause behind this clustering. With our research in hand, we are working on ways to improve our methods of genetic counseling and screening methods
Since lifestyle factors may be important, we collect information from our patients about habits and health history so that we can study all the causes of this disease.
Scientific studies have shown that excessive alcohol drinking leads to chronic pancreatitis, which is inflammation of the pancreas. It is important to note that it takes many years of chronic pancreatitis to increase risk for pancreatic cancer.
A few studies have suggested a link between soft drinks and pancreatic cancer, but much more research is needed to understand and confirm this link. However, most experts recommend avoiding drinking too many high calorie soft drinks to promote a healthy lifestyle and avoid many diseases, including obesity and possibly diabetes.
Some studies have linked Type-2 diabetes to pancreatic cancer, but more studies are needed to better understand the role it plays in causing pancreatic cancer.
More Answers from Johns Hopkins Medicine