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Binge Drinking May Increase Risk of Pancreatic Cancer in Men

Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest cancers, and researchers from UT Southwestern Medical Center have found that heavy drinking may increase men’s chances of developing the disease. Their study found that the amount of alcohol consumed increased a man’s risk of developing pancreatic cancer, compared with men who don’t drink at all or drink very little.

The study, published online in Cancer Causes and Control, was supported by the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute and partially by the Rombauer Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund.

Science Daily reports that lead author Dr. Samir Gupta, assistant professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern, said that if further studies continue to confirm this relationship, it may be even more important to reduce heavy drinking. Dr. Elizabeth Holly and Drs. Paige Bracci and Furong Wang were also involved in the study.

The study discovered that men who drank heavily were 1.5 to 6 times more likely to be at risk for pancreatic cancer than men who didn’t drink or had one drink in a month. The amount of alcohol consumed and the frequency of heavy drinking increased the risk, regardless of heavy drinking in the past.

The study also showed that men who consumed five or more drinks during one session (binge drinking) were 3.5 times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer. The heaviest drinkers had 21 to 35 drinks per week.

This association did not seem to exist among women, but Dr. Gupta said that this could be because fewer women tend to report binge or heavy drinking.

In the study, researchers used questionnaires to interview 532 patients with pancreatic cancer in the San Francisco area who were diagnosed between 1995 and 1999, comparing the results with those of 1,701 control participants who were matched by sex and age.

The cancer patients ranged from 21 to 85 years old, but most were between 60 and 80. About half of the participants were men, 83 percent of them were Caucasian, and most were of a healthy weight and had some college education.

Dr. Gupta said more research is needed to understand the gender differences in regards to the risk of developing pancreatic cancer, and to understand why heavy drinking may increase men’s risk of developing the disease. He added that next step is to compare his results with similar studies that analyze alcohol consumption in detail.

Source: Science Daily, Heavy Alcohol Use, Binge Drinking, Might Increase Risk of Pancreatic Cancer, Researcher Reports, May 20, 2010.

Posted on May 18th, 2010
Posted in Binge Drinking

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