Who Is at High Risk for Pancreatic Cancer?

Anyone can develop pancreatic cancer. While the causes remain unclear, the known risks include specific eating habits. Researchers have discovered that people who consume significant amounts of certain foods tend to have a higher risk of developing cancer. Even so, a risk factor cannot predict whether a person will develop pancreatic cancer (nothing can).

What foods cause pancreatic cancer?

There is no evidence to suggest that any foods directly cause pancreatic cancer. However, some foods are believed to increase the risk of many types of cancer, including pancreatic cancer. For this reason, many experts recommend limiting or eliminating consumption of:

  • Red meats, such as beef, veal, pork, lamb and mutton
  • Charred foods, including well-done, fried and barbecued meats
  • Processed, cured, salted, pickled and smoked foods, such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs, pepperoni, prosciutto, beef jerky and salami
  • Alcoholic beverages, which can cause pancreatitis and cirrhosis, both of which are pancreatic cancer risks

Good nutrition, in general, plays a key role in overall health, including the health of the immune system. A strong immune system can be more effective at fighting off invaders, such as cancer. Additionally, poor eating habits can lead to obesity, which is a known risk factor for pancreatic cancer. With all of that said, there is no known “miracle diet” that can eliminate all pancreatic cancer risks.

How do you detect pancreatic cancer early?

Early-stage pancreatic cancer can be difficult to detect for several reasons. First, small tumors may not be seen or felt because the pancreas is located deep within the body. Second, pancreatic cancer usually does not produce noticeable symptoms until it spreads to other organs. Finally, no pancreatic cancer screening test has proven to be effective enough for use in people of average risk. Therefore, the best way to detect pancreatic cancer early is to know the symptoms, such as jaundice and dark-colored urine, and to promptly report anything unusual to a physician.

If you’d like to review your pancreatic cancer risks with an oncologist in Moffitt Cancer Center’s renowned Gastrointestinal Oncology Program, you can request an appointment with or without a referral. Call 1-888-663-3488 or complete our new patient registration form online.