Pancreatic Cancer: Risk Factors


Risk factors for pancreatic cancer include:


Most pancreatic cancers occur in people over the age of 60.


More men are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer than women.


African Americans are more likely than Asians, Hispanics or Caucasians to get pancreatic cancer.


Smokers are two to three times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than nonsmokers.


Pancreatic cancer occurs more often in people who have diabetes than in people who do not.

Obesity and Diet

Eating a high-fat diet is a risk factor for pancreatic cancer. Research has shown that obese and even overweight men and women have a higher risk of dying from pancreatic cancer.

Family History

A person’s chance of developing pancreatic cancer increases three-fold if a first-degree relative (mother, father, sister or brother) had pancreatic cancer. This risk increases even further the greater the number of first degree relatives who are affected. Melanoma that runs in families and certain hereditary forms of colon, breast and ovarian cancers are also associated with an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer.

Chronic Ppancreatitis

Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas, a painful disease of the pancreas. Some research suggests that having chronic pancreatitis may increase the risk of developing pancreatic cancer.


Exposure to certain chemicals (such as pesticides, benzene, certain dyes and petrochemicals) may increase the risk of developing pancreatic cancer.