Pancreatic cancer generally doesn’t receive a lot of publicity, but this very aggressive cancer was brought to the public mind with the recent death of actor Patrick Swayze.
Pancreatic cancer is treatable if caught early, however most are discovered too late. As such, fewer than five percent of pancreatic cancer patents celebrate a five-year survivor milestone. According to the American Cancer Society, it is the fourth leading cause of cancer related death overall.
As with any cancer, there is no smoking gun. A person’s lifestyle, age, family and medical history, and environmental factors generally are at play in determining one’s risk. However, recent studies have found that some common practices may dramatically increase the risk for pancreatic cancer. Here are some to note.
Don’t smoke. The risk of developing pancreatic cancer increases two to three times among smokers. About 30 percent of all pancreatic cancers are thought to be a direct result of cigarette smoking. A 2007 study conducted by researchers at Michigan State University and published in the International Journal of Cancer added to the body of research further linking cigarette smoking to pancreatic cancer. They found that the chemicals produced by the burning of tobacco products - polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs - interfere with communication between the body's cells. More importantly, their work showed that some of these chemicals don't necessarily initiate the cancer, but rather contribute to the promotion of it. Another study found smokeless tobacco also increases the risk of pancreatic cancer by 60 percent as compared to non-tobacco users.
Limit dietary fats. Men and women whose diets included high amounts of total saturated and monounsaturated fats, particularly from red meat and dairy sources, had 53 percent and 23 percent increased rates of pancreatic cancer, respectively, compared with men and women with a low fat diet.