Can You Prevent This Deadly Cancer?
Alex Trebek, longtime host of Jeopardy!, recently announced he has pancreatic cancer. This disease is notoriously difficult to detect, which makes survival less likely. Read on to find out more about the risk factors for pancreatic cancer and what can be done to help prevent it.
Who’s At Risk?
Anyone can get pancreatic cancer. But there are some factors that can increase your risk for pancreatic cancer, such as:
- Older age. Your risk of pancreatic cancer goes up as you get older. Pancreatic cancer is rare before age 45. About two-thirds of patients are 65 or older when they are diagnosed.
- Gender. Men are more likely to get pancreatic cancer than women.
- Tobacco use. The use of any type of tobacco (including chewing tobacco) increases your risk for this cancer.
- Diabetes. People with long-term diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes, appear to be at increased risk for this cancer.
- Chronic pancreatitis. Long-term inflammation of the pancreas is linked with a higher risk for pancreatic cancer.
- Exposure to certain chemicals, especially in the workplace. People who are exposed to certain chemicals at work, such as dry cleaners, might have a higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Some other chemicals, such as benzene and certain pesticides or dyes, might also raise the risk.
4 Ways to Reduce Your Risk
Talk with your health care provider about your risk factors for pancreatic cancer. Ask what you can do about them. Some risk factors, such as your age, are not under your control. But there are some things you can do that might lower your risk:
- Do not use any form of tobacco. If you do, try to quit.
- Limit how much alcohol you drink.
- Reach and keep a healthy weight. Eating a nutritious diet and staying active can help.
- Avoid exposure to chemicals that might increase your risk.
Should You Be Screened?
While screening for pancreatic cancer in the general population is not recommended at this time, some people at increased risk might benefit from screening or genetic counseling.
Find out if genetic counseling is right for you: