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  • Obesity and elevated insulin levels appear to increase the risk of pancreatic cancer

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    Friday, July 09, 2004 11:45 am Email this article
    Obesity, elevated insulin levels, glucose intolerance, lack of physical activity, aspirin use, occupational exposure to certain pesticides, and dietary factors such as carbohydrate or sugar intake, as well as smoking, appear to increase the risk of pancreatic cancer according to a new paper from a researcher at Harvard University.

    When a person stops smoking the risk appears to decrease.

    Chronic pancreatitis (an inflammaed pancreas) and diabetes mellitus are also related to pancreatic cancer.

    There also seems to be a genetic component to pancreatic cancer, because it runs in families, however genes are unlikely to explain more than 5-10 percent of all pancreatic cancer cases according to the author of this paper.

    Over 200,000 people throughtout the world die annually of pancreatic cancer.

    The highest incidence and mortality rates of pancreatic cancer are found in developed countries.

    In the United States, pancreatic cancer is the 4th leading cause of cancer death, and in Europe it is the 6th.

    In the U.S., rates of pancreatic cancer and mortality are highest among blacks, who have some of the highest rates in the world.

    Because of high fatality rates, pancreatic cancer incidence rates are almost equal to mortality rates. In other words, more people who get pancreatic cancer die.


    Michaud D. Epidemiology of pancreatic cancer. Minerva Chir. 2004 Apr, 59(2):99-111.


    D. S. Michaud
    Department of Epidemiology
    Harvard School of Public Health
    Boston, MA, USA.

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