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Eleven Established Risk Factors For Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is now the fifth most common form of cancer in the United States and is diagnosed by about 40,000 Americans each year. In most cases the disease has very poor survival. Only 1 in 20 people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer will survive five years.

The main reason pancreatic cancer has a poor survival is that most cases are diagnosed when the cancer is at a very late stage. This is due to the unrelated symptoms of the disease in the early stages. Early warning signs include upper abdominal pain, yellow fever, loss of appetite, and weight loss.

There are several risk factors known to affect an individual's probability of developing pancreatic cancer. While some are irreversible, some can be influenced by sensible lifestyles and dietary modifications.

Here are eleven higher risk factors for pancreatic cancer.

Age: The incidence of pancreatic cancer has increased dramatically with age. The disease is extremely rare in people under 50 with less than 5% of all cases diagnosed in this age bracket. Three-quarters of all cases occur in people over the age of sixty.

Gender: As with most other cancers, men are about 10% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than women.

Racing: African Americans are 50% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer in their lifetime than Caucasians. Native Hawaiians and New Zealand Maoris also have relatively high rates of disease.

Obesity: People who are overweight, and especially those who carry a lot of belly fat are at greater risk for developing pancreatic cancer.

Diabetes: People who have been diagnosed with diabetes are more likely to develop pancreatic cancer.

Family history: It is estimated that about 10% of pancreatic cancers are inherited. First-degree relatives diagnosed with pancreatic cancer increase your chances of developing the disease threefold.

Smoking: Heavy smokers who have smoked for at least twenty years almost twice the risk of developing pancreatic cancer as non-smokers. Former smokers, light smokers, and tobacco chewers are also at greater risk.

Diet: Fat diets, high diets in red or processed meats, high cholesterol diets, and low diets in fresh fruits and vegetables are all considered to be associated with increased risk of pancreatic cancer.

Physical inactivity: People who engage in physical activity less than once a week are at a higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer than those who exercise three or more times a week.

Exposure to Carcinogens: Exposure to certain carcinogenic chemicals such as pesticides, dyes, cadmium, nickel, chromium, and asbestos dust can increase people's chances of developing the disease.

Alcohol Use Evidence for a link between pancreatic cancer and mixed alcohol. Heavy drinkers can cause pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) associated with increased risk of disease.


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