Alcoholism Raises Risk For Pancreatic Cancer In Men

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Men who drink heavily or binge drink may have a higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer than those who drink little or no alcohol.

The Study

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center interviewed 532 cancer patients and 1701 control participants about their alcohol consumption and binge drinking and analyzed it for a number of factors. Researchers defined one drink as about 14 grams of alcohol and binge drinking as 5 or more drinks in one episode of drinking. The heaviest drinkers in the study had 21-35 drinks per week.

The results showed that men who drank alcohol were at a 1.5-6 times greater risk of pancreatic cancer than those who drank less than one drink per month. Risk level varied depending on how much and how often the person drank, but was elevated no matter how long ago the heavy drinking happened. Binge drinkers were found to be at a 3.5 times greater risk of developing pancreatic cancer.

Why Is This Important?

People diagnosed with pancreatic cancer have the lowest 5-year survival rate of any cancer, at least partly due to early signs that are easy to miss. Advances in medicine over the past 3 decades have failed to lower the cancer's mortality rate. If further studies confirm this link between alcohol consumption and increased risk, increased awareness of the connection could help men with a history of alcoholism get an earlier diagnosis and a better survival rate if they do develop pancreatic cancer.

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