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Reducing Your Risk of Pancreatic Cancer

A risk factor is something that increases your chances of developing cancer. Some risk factors cannot be changed, such as family history or genetics. Fortunately, many risk factors can be modified.

  • Quitting smoking is an important step in preventing pancreatic and other cancers. In addition, for those who smoke, it takes the body longer to fight infections and heal wounds. The sooner smoking is stopped, the sooner the body can start to heal. Talk to your doctor about the options available to help you successfully quit.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation—Excess alcohol consumption is a cause of chronic pancreatitis. Pancreatitis does increase the risk of pancreatic cancer. If you drink, aim for moderation. Moderation is a maximum of one drink a day for women and a maximum of two drinks a day for men. Talk to your doctor if you are having trouble controlling how much you drink
  • Avoid or reduce occupational exposure to certain chemicals— People who work with the pesticide DDT should take steps to protect themselves from exposure. Check with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health or the Environmental Protection Agency about any available protective guidelines.
  • Manage any medical conditions
    • Lose excess weight if you are overweight or obese. Maintaining a healthy weight will also help reduce the risk of diabetes. Talk to a registered dietitian who can help you lose weight safely.
    • If you have diabetes, follow your treatment plan. If you are having problems with your treatment plan, talk about your options with your doctor.
    • Seek prompt treatment for indigestion or other digestive symptoms associated with increased stomach acid production or ulcers.

Revision Information

  • Can pancreatic cancer be prevented? American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/pancreatic-cancer/causes-risks-prevention/prevention.html. Updated May 31, 2016. Accessed March 20, 2017.

  • General information about pancreatic cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/pancreatic/patient/pancreatic-treatment-pdq. Updated December 23, 2016. Accessed March 20, 2017.

  • Pancreatic cancer. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114527/Pancreatic-cancer. Updated July 6, 2016. Accessed March 20, 2017.

  • Pancreatic cancer. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal-disorders/tumors-of-the-gi-tract/pancreatic-cancer. Updated January 2017. Accessed March 20, 2017.

  • 7/21/2009 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114527/Pancreatic-cancer: 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(24):2553-2562.