Cancer that originates in the pancreas, a vital endocrine gland, is called pancreatic cancer. This gland is located behind the stomach and helps in the digestion of fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and regulates the blood glucose levels. Pancreatic cancer does not result in early symptoms, making it difficult to diagnose and treat early. Symptoms such as a lack of appetite, unintended weight loss, jaundice, stomach pain, and blood clots are not very obvious even after the cancer increases in size.
Scientists are yet to understand what exactly causes pancreatic cancer, but they have been successful in identifying some factors that might increase the risk of getting pancreatic cancer. Having any of the following factors does not guarantee pancreatic cancer, but it does increase your risk.
Around 25 to 30 % of all pancreatic cancer cases are related to cigarette smoking. Smoking results in inflammation of the pancreas, which increases the risk of pancreatic cancer. Smokers are twice as likely to get this cancer than those who have never smoked. Not only cigarette smoking, but using other smokeless tobacco products also increases the risk. The best way to reduce cancer risk is by quitting smoking. After 10 years of smoking cessation, the chances of you getting this cancer is equal to someone who has never smoked.
2) Obesity and Sedentary Lifestyle
People with BMI (Body Mass Index) of 30 or more are around 20% more likely to develop this cancer. A BMI of 30 or more falls in the obese range. Apart from this, excess belly fat and leading an inactive or sedentary lifestyle can also increase your risk of pancreatic cancer. Stay active as much as possible throughout the day and work out regularly.
The incidence of pancreatic cancer in type 2 diabetes patients is high, but the cause is not known. You can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and pancreatic cancer by consuming a diet low in sugar and carbohydrates, exercising at least 30 minutes daily, and maintaining a healthy weight. There is insufficient information on whether type 1 (juvenile) diabetes carries a high risk of pancreatic cancer.
4) Family History
Pancreatic cancer might be linked with certain genetic conditions, which makes them run in families. You may be at risk if at least three family members have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. You can rule out your risk by genetic testing for hereditary pancreatic cancer.
5) Exposure to Chemicals
Certain chemicals, like pesticides, dyes, benzene, etc., might increase the risk of pancreatic cancer. People working in dry cleaning and metalworking industries are more at risk.
Consuming foods high in saturated fats, such as red and processed meats, may make you susceptible to pancreatic cancer. Sugary beverages might have the same effect. Make sure you include more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet.
Drinking large amounts of alcohol can damage your liver and pancreas. It results in long-term inflammation of the pancreas (chronic pancreatitis), a known risk factor of pancreatic cancer. Drink alcohol in moderation.
Some studies suggest that Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection, a bacterial infection that results in stomach ulcers, and Hepatitis B, a viral infection that results in inflammation of the liver and jaundice, may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer.