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Habits Secretly Increasing Your Pancreatic Cancer Risk, Say Experts

Here's how to avoid the deadly cancer.

Pancreatic cancer is relatively rare, but its survival rate is among the lowest of all cancers. According to the American Cancer Society, only 11% of people who develop pancreatic cancer will be alive five years after diagnosis. That's because pancreatic cancer is hard to diagnose, and it's often found after it's widely spread. Cancer isn't always preventable, but certain habits have been associated with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer. Here's what you want to avoid, according to experts. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.



Closeup of a pile of cigarettes

"Smoking is a significant risk factor" for pancreatic cancer, says the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, which notes tobacco may cause 20% to 30% of pancreatic cancer cases. "People who smoke cigarettes are two times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than people who have never smoked."


Drinking Too Much Alcohol

Pint of beer and whiskey shot

Chronic pancreatitis—inflammation of the pancreas—is a known risk factor for developing pancreatic cancer. One habit that can cause pancreatitis is heavy alcohol use. "Some research suggests a link between heavy alcohol use and pancreatic cancer,"  says PanCAN. "The risk of developing pancreatic cancer is higher in people who drink more than three alcoholic drinks daily compared to those who do not." For good overall health, experts recommend avoiding alcohol or drinking only in moderation, meaning no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women.


Eating Processed Meat

Processed deli meat cold cuts

"Eating an excessive amount of red and processed meats may increase your risk of developing pancreatic cancer," says Johns Hopkins Medicine. A meta-analysis of studies found " a statistically significant positive association between processed meat consumption and risk of pancreatic cancer," with a 50-gram daily increase in processed meat consumption associated with a 19% increased risk of cancer. Conversely, a diet high in fruits and vegetables may lower that risk.


Drinking Sugary Beverages


"A few studies have suggested a link between soft drinks and pancreatic cancer, but much more research is needed to understand and confirm this link," says Johns Hopkins Medicine. "Most health experts recommend not drinking too many high-calorie soft drinks to promote a healthy lifestyle and avoid many diseases, including obesity and diabetes."


Having Too Much Belly Fat

Man and woman holding their bellies while sitting on the bed suffering from extra weight.

"People who are obese [a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more] have a 20% increased risk of developing the disease compared to people who are of normal weight," says PanCAN. "The risk is even higher in people who are obese during early adulthood. People with excessive abdominal fat may have an increased risk even if they are not obese." One study found that women who carry extra weight around their stomach are 70 percent more likely to develop pancreatic cancer. That may be due to the fact that abdominal fat is metabolically active, releasing toxins and hormones into vital organs like the liver and pancreas. 

And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more about Michael
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