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A risk factor increases your chances of developing cancer. Modifying the following risk factors may help reduce your risk of pancreatic cancer.

A significant number of cases of pancreatic cancer may be associated with smoking. If you are a smoker, you should do everything within your power to stop. You are risking pancreatic cancer, as well as other serious diseases. Contact your doctor to see if you can use a nicotine replacement, such as nicotine patch or gum. Other options include hypnotherapy or group support.

For more information on how to quit smoking, click here.

Alcohol consumption may lead to pancreatic cancer. If you drink regularly, you should try to cut down on the amount of alcohol you drink, preferably stopping all together. Contact you doctor and consider joining a support group, like AA.

Being overweight or obese not only increases your risk of pancreatic cancer but may also reduce your chance of survival if you are ever diagnosed with this condition. .

Try to control your body weight with the proper dieting and regular exercise. Contact your doctor if you are considering bariatric surgery.

It is well known that your chance of developing pancreatic cancer is increased if you have diabetes. If you have a family history of diabetes or have other risk factors, such as being overweight, you should get regular blood sugar testing to see if you have prediabetes. To prevent the condition from developing, you should control you weight with proper diet and exercise. Your doctor might consider using an antidiabetes drug if other options fail.

You have a higher-than-normal risk of developing pancreatic cancer if you work in the petroleum and dry-cleaning industries, or if your job entails the use of pesticides and dyes. If you must work in these industries, research how to best protect yourself from exposure to chemicals. Check with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health or the Environmental Protection Agency about protective guidelines.

Discuss with your doctor or dietitian strategies to eat a healthy diet, such as eating foods low in saturated fat and rich in whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables. You may also want to ask your doctor about taking folate. One study suggests a link between high folate intake and decreased risk of pancreatic cancer.


Detailed guide: pancreatic cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/. Accessed April 8, 2009.

DiMagno E. Pancreatic carcinoma. In: Cecil Textbook of Medicine. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Company; 2000: 750-752.

Freelove R, Walling AD. Pancreatic cancer: diagnosis and management. Am Fam Physician. 2006;73:485-492.

US Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for pancreatic cancer. National Center for Biotechnology Information website. Available at: http://hstat.nlm.nih.gov/. Accessed April 8, 2009.

What you need to know about cancer of the pancreas. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancerinfo/wyntk/pancreas#2. Accessed April 8, 2009.

7/21/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php: Li D, Morris JS, Liu J, et al. Body mass index and risk, age of onset, and survival in patients with pancreatic cancer. JAMA. 2009;301:2553-2562.

4/9/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php: Oaks BM, Dodd KW, Meinhold CL, Jiao L, Church TR, Stolzenberg-Solomon RZ. Folate intake, post-folic acid grain fortification, and pancreatic cancer risk in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010;91(2):449-55.

Last reviewed September 2013 by Mohei Abouzied, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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