Smoking and heavy drinking 'associated with earlier pancreatic cancer'

1st October 2012

Smoking and heavy drinking have been linked to the earlier onset of pancreatic cancer, according to new research.

A study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology found that heavy smokers with pancreatic cancer tended to be diagnosed around the age of 62, while heavy drinkers with the condition were diagnosed at around 61.

This is almost earlier than the average age of 72.

These findings are unsurprising as smoking is a strong risk factor for pancreatic cancer, while alcohol has also been seen to cause oxidative damage to the pancreas. This sets up inflammatory pathways that lead to cancer.

Researchers noted that this study represents a step towards working out at what age screening for pancreatic cancer should begin.

Lead study author Michelle Anderson said: "As screening programs are developed, an understanding of how personal features influence the age of presentation will be important to optimise the timing of those screenings."

Posted by Philip Briggs

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