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Heavy Alcohol Use More than Triples Pancreatic Cancer Risk for Men

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Men who consume five or more drinks in one sitting may be more than tripling their chances of developing pancreatic cancer. Researchers compared men who drank little or no alcohol, finding a direct association between amounts of alcohol consumed and increased risk of pancreatic cancer for men, but not in women.

Heavy alcohol use or binge drinking more than tripled the risk of cancer of the pancreas. Men who just drink alcohol increase the risk of pancreatic cancer 1.5 to 6 times compared to alcohol abstainers and men who consume one alcoholic beverage a month.

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The findings that men who drink alcohol increase their risk of pancreatic cancer comes from Dr. Samir Gupta, assistant professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern and lead author of a study conducted at the University of California, San Francisco whose team studied patients with cancer of the pancreas via questionnaires between 1995 and 1999. More than half were men, 83 percent were Caucasian and most were normal weight and college educated.

Gupta says the current study is different than previous studies because more details about binge drinking and alcohol use was collected in interviews from 532 patients with pancreatic cancer, the majority of whom were between age 60 and 80.

"Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest cancers, so any risk factor that can be identified and addressed may save lives," Dr. Gupta said. "Our research found that large and frequent amounts of alcohol consumption may be risk factors for pancreatic cancer." More research is needed to find out why alcohol consumption is linked to pancreatic cancer in men, but not in women.

Cancer Causes and Control