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Risk Factors for Pancreatic Cancer

Tens of thousands of Americans and Europeans are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year. However, not all people have the same risk of getting this potentially deadly disease. Here's an overview of some of the risk factors for pancreatic cancer:


Pancreatic cancer is more common in older people. About 90% of pancreatic cancer cases are diagnosed in people who are over 55 years old.


As with many other diseases, exposure to cigarette smoke increases the risk of pancreatic cancer. Statistics show that smokers develop pancreatic cancer more than twice as often as non-smokers.

Genetic Factors

Pancreatic cancer runs in a family at least two first-degree relatives have been diagnosed with it. Genetic mutations that have been linked to the pancreatic cancer include hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC), hereditary pancreatitis (HP), Peutz-Jeghers syndrome (PJS), and BRCA2 gene mutation predispose to pancreatic cancer.

Medical History

People who have a history of cirrhosis (a liver disease), chronic pancreatitis, diabetes mellitus, Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection, or gum disease may have an elevated risk of getting pancreatic cancer.


obese people, particularly those who became overweight early in their lives, are more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than people who have a normal body mass index (BMI).

Dietary Factors

Certain dietary habits may predispose to pancreatic cancer. On the other hand, other dietary factors may play a key role in the prevention of the disease. To learn more about dietary factors that may have an impact on a person's risk of developing pancreatic cancer, go to the diet section of this guide.