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What are the Different Pancreatic Cancer Causes?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 November 2016
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Pancreatic cancer is a quickly spreading, life-threatening condition that originates in the inner or outer lining of the pancreas. This type of cancer is most often diagnosed in patients over 70 years old, and is more common in men than in women. From a medical perspective, it is difficult to pinpoint any direct pancreatic cancer causes. Doctors and researchers have identified several risk factors and possible causes, however, including tobacco use, obesity, chronic pancreatitis, and diabetes. Research also suggests that heredity might play a significant role in the development of pancreatic cancer.

People who smoke cigarettes or chew tobacco for many years are at an increased risk of developing several different types of carcinoma, including pancreatic cancer. In fact, long-term tobacco use is thought to be one of the most significant pancreatic cancer causes. Carcinogenic chemicals found in cigarettes and chewing tobacco eventually enter the bloodstream and travel to the pancreas. After many years of being bombarded with foreign chemicals, cells in the pancreas might stop expiring normally. Instead, they mutate and proliferate wildly, spreading the cancerous condition throughout the pancreas and to other parts of the body.

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Being overweight and making unhealthy lifestyle choices are other potential pancreatic cancer causes. Many overweight and obese people are at an increased risk of pancreatic cancer because of poor dietary habits as well as a lack of regular exercise. Several studies have found links between pancreatic cancer and diets that are high in fat. Consuming excessive amounts of red meat and pork is thought to put strain on the digestive enzyme producing areas of the pancreas. In contrast, a diet that is rich in vitamins, fruits, and vegetables can reduce the risk of developing pancreatic cancer.

Chronic conditions such as pancreatitis, diabetes, and cirrhosis can also be pancreatic cancer causes. Pancreatitis is a slowly-developing condition that results in inflammation of pancreatic tissue. While most individuals with pancreatitis do not develop cancer, the disease can encourage cancerous conditions if left untreated. Diabetes and cirrhosis have been linked with cancer in many studies, although medical and biological researchers do not fully understand how these conditions can cause cancerous responses in the pancreas.

Many people who suffer from pancreatic cancer have a family history of pancreas problems, various cancers, and other genetic syndromes. Familial pancreatitis, melanoma, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer are all thought to be inherited pancreatic cancer causes. Another potential cause is a genetic mutation, which may be present at birth or develop over time as a response to environmental exposure to harmful chemicals. An individual who believes he or she might be at risk of developing pancreatic cancer from any cause should visit a doctor immediately, as detecting problems early is essential for successful treatment.

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