7 Pancreatic Cancer Risk Factors Explained




Risk factors are the inherited or acquired factors that increase the chance of developing cancer in a person. Several epidemiological studies have suggested a number of genetic and environmental factors that may predispose to pancreatic cancer. A knowledge about them helps us to make necessary lifestyle choices.

To further understand the disease in a better way, have a look at the video below where CancerBro meets Mr. Parker who has recently being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Video Transcript:

To understand the disease better, we will meet Mr. Parker pancreatic cancer patient, who has recently been diagnosed with cancer.

Mr. Parker is a 72 years old man, who was having abdominal pain for the last few days. Recently, he also noticed yellowish discoloration of his eyes. He got very worried and straight away rushed to the hospital.

After the complete diagnostic workup, he was found to have pancreatic cancer. Let’s meet him.

CancerBro: Hi Mr. Parker, how are you feeling today?

Mr. Parker: CancerBro, I was very worried when I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, but feeling a bit relaxed after talking to you.

CancerBro: What were your symptoms for which you consulted the doctor?

Mr. Parker: I had pain in the upper abdomen for the last few days, and also noticed yellowish discoloration of eyes and urine.

CancerBro: Mr. Parker, what work you do? After you physically active or mostly sedentary?

Mr. Parker: I work in a factory where I am continuously exposed to gases and my work is mostly sedentary. I am not much physically active.

CancerBro: What kind of diet do you take? Are you addicted to smoking or alcohol?

Mr. Parker: My diet is mostly unhealthy, with high carbohydrates and fats. I smoke almost a pack daily for the last 10 years.

CancerBro: Did anyone else in your close relative had a history of pancreatic or any other cancer?

Mr. Parker: No CancerBro, I don’t remember anyone with cancer in my family.

I think you people must have got an idea how a patient with pancreatic cancer presents, and what are the risk factors for the disease.

Risk Factors for Pancreatic Cancer explained with Video and Images

Video Transcript:

CancerBro, can you please discuss the risk factors in a little more detail.

Pancreatic cancer is more commonly seen in African Americans as compared to the natives.

Elderly males are more predisposed to the disease as compared to the females.

The disease is less commonly seen in white Americans and people from developed countries.

Smoking is a significant risk factor for pancreatic cancer, but the risk reduces significantly after cessation of smoking.

Exposure to chemicals or heavy metals, used in various industries may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer.

Obesity and physical inactivity is also a risk factor for the disease.

Regular physical activity may help in reducing the risk of pancreatic cancer.

High fat and high cholesterol diet may also be a risk factor for the disease.

History of pancreatic cancer in close relatives may also increase the risk in other family members.

Presence of diabetes or cirrhosis of the liver may also predispose a person to develop pancreatic cancer.

History of chronic or hereditary pancreatitis is also a risk factor for the disease.

These were the risk factors for pancreatic cancer.

Thanks, CancerBro. These risk factors if kept in mind may help us to contact the doctor early before the disease become very advanced.

Pancreatic Cancer  Risk Factors

Pancreatic Cancer Risk Factors

Tobacco/Cigarette Smoking

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.



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

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

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.


processed high calories diet, animal fat

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

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.

Other Factors

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.

In the coming sections, read about the symptoms, investigations, staging and treatment of pancreatic cancer.

Join our PANCREATIC CANCER COMMUNITY to connect with fighters and survivors across the globe.


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