Risk factors and how pancreatic cancer develops

We are repeatedly approached by affected persons and their relatives who ask for information about the risk factors which foster the growth of pancreatic cancer and to what extent these factors play a part. That’s why we decided to list the risk factors here.

Risk factors for pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer is one of the worst types of cancer. At the moment there is no cure in sight. Our experience shows us that pancreatic cancer develops randomly, but is, however, fostered by different factors.

These could be, for instance:

Age: It often strikes people in the age-group over 50s. But, unfortunately, nowadays, it is affecting more and more young people.
Weight: Overweight people are often affected (BMI >30)


The influence of nutrition on the formation of pancreatic cancer is not, at the moment, scientifically documented. A well-balanced diet, with lots of fruit and vegetables, high in fiber and vitamins can reduce the risk for pancreatic cancer, as with most other types of cancer as well.

Genetic factors

Hereditary predisposition for breast or uterine cancer with BRCA mutation / Inflammation of the pancreas / Cancer of the colon

Neither age nor gender specific:

Nicht nur alte Menschen, sondern auch junge Menschen, Männer und Frauen sind gleicher­maßen betroffen.


Previous Illness – especially of the pancreas

  • Chronic or acute inflammation of the pancreas,
  • Inflammatory illnesses of the gastrointestinal system



Nowadays smoking has been scientifically proven to be a large risk factor. The risk for a smoker is expected to be 3.5 times higher as for a non-smoker. It is presumed that passive smoking is also a risk factor, but that has yet to be scientifically proven.


Regular alcohol consumption apparently also heightens the risk of pancreatic cancer. The estimated risk is 2.5 times higher for men as well as for women.

Family history

There’s a higher risk for people with at least two members of their immediate kin who have pancreatic cancer. The percentage of affected people is estimated to be 10% at the most. Accordingly, the majority of the affected people have no hereditary disposition.  

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