Several research studies have shown a number of factors can predispose pancreatic cancer. Following is a list of pancreatic cancer risk factors:
- Tobacco/Cigarette Smoking: Chronic tobacco chewing or cigarette smoking exposes the body to various carcinogens that increase the risk of pancreatic cancer. This has been identified as one of the major pancreatic cancer risk factors.
- Obesity: Many studies have suggested that obesity increases the risk of pancreatic cancer, which was linked to the increased level of insulin and insulin growth factors, lower level of anti-inflammatory cytokines, and increased carcinogen exposure related to food consumption.
- Industrial/Occupational exposure: Chronic exposure to certain heavy metals or other harmful chemicals like benzidine, pesticides, asbestos, and chlorinated hydrocarbons that are generally encountered in dry cleaning and metal industry, has been found to increase the pancreatic cancer risk factors.
- Family history: Risk of developing pancreatic cancer increases threefold in individuals with a family history of pancreatic cancer in first-degree relatives (parents, brother, sister, or child). The risk further increases with the increase in the number of first-degree relatives diagnosed.
- Chronic pancreatitis: The long-term inflammation of the pancreas, which may arise due to heavy alcohol consumption, biliary duct blockage, or hereditary genetic mutation, have been reported to increase the risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
- Diet: A diet rich in animal protein, low intake of fruits and vegetables, and improperly prepared/stored food are considered to elevate the pancreatic cancer risk factors.
- Genetic Cancer Predisposition Syndromes: Some inherited cancer predisposition syndromes have been reported to be associated with a high incidence rate of pancreatic cancer. Following are some examples: Hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome (caused by mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes); Lynch syndrome or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC, generally caused by mutation in the MLH1 or MSH2 genes); Familial pancreatitis (caused by mutations in the PRSS1 gene); Familial atypical multiple mole melanoma (caused by mutation in the p16/CDKN2A gene), Peutz-Jeghers syndrome (caused by mutation in the STK11 gene), Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome (caused by mutations in the VHL gene), etc.
- Older age individuals are at a significantly higher chance of developing pancreatic cancer.
Consumption of coffee/tea, infection with Helicobacter pylori, and liver cirrhosis, and diabetes are other reported for pancreatic cancer risk factors.
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