​Causes of Pancreatic Cancer Facts

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November 1, 2013

Here’s a list of causes of Pancreatic Cancer. The recent death of Steve Jobs has brought new awareness on the subject. Jobs died on October 5, just six years of being diagnosed with the incurable disease.

While it is virtually impossible to tell what caused a specific person to develop pancreatic cancer, there are some important principles that can help us understand why it develops, and large population-based studies help us understand the many risk factors for this disease.

Some of the risk factors include:

1. Smoking: Cigarette smoking doubles the possibility of getting pancreatic cancer.

2. Age: The risk of developing it increases with age. Over 80% of the cases develop between the ages of 60 and 80.

3. Race: Studies in the United States have shown that it is more common in the African American population than it is in the white population. Some of this increased risk may be due to socioeconomic factors and to cigarette smoking.

4. Gender: It is more common in men than in women. Men are more likely to smoke than women.

5. Religious background: It is proportionally more common in Ashkenazi Jews than the rest of the population. This may be because of a particular inherited mutation in the breast cancer gene (BRCA2) which runs in some Ashkenazi Jewish families.

6. Chronic pancreatitis: Long-term inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) has been linked to cancer of the pancreas.

7. Diabetes: Diabetes is both a symptom of pancreatic cancer, and long-standing adult-onset diabetes also increases the possibility of getting it.

8. Obesity: Obesity significantly increases the possibility of getting pancreatic cancer.

9. Diet: Diets high in meats, cholesterol fried foods and nitrosamines may increase ones probability, while diets high in fruits and vegetables reduce risk. Folate may be protective.

10. Genetics: A number of inherited cancer syndromes increase the possibility of getting this . These include inherited mutations in the BRCA2, FAMMM, PalB2 or Peutz-Jeghers genes.