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Beer Drinking May Speed Pancreatic Cancer Onset
Date:5/21/2008

Other alcohol also boosted the risk, as did smoking, study found

WEDNESDAY, May 21 (HealthDay News) -- Heavy smoking and drinking, especially beer, may hasten the onset of pancreatic cancer, according to researchers who presented their data Tuesday at the Digestive Disease Week 2008 conference in San Diego.

Beer appears to exert a stronger influence than hard liquor or wine in lowering the age of onset of pancreatic cancer, said researcher Dr. Michelle A. Anderson, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Michigan.

Anderson and her colleagues evaluated patients from The Pancreatic Cancer Collaborative Registry, a multi-center, international patient registry, looking at whether the patients drank or smoked, and if so, how much and what type of liquor.

They evaluated the smoking and drinking (or abstinence) patterns of 453 patients in all, about equal numbers of men and women.

Patients who smoked did tend to develop pancreatic disease at a younger age and there were dose-related effects, Anderson said. Heavy smokers (such as those who have smoked more than a pack a day for 40 years, or more than two packs for 20 years) presented with pancreatic cancer an average of seven years before nonsmokers.

The average age of onset of pancreatic cancer is between 70 to 80, experts noted.

Heavy drinkers, defined as having more than three daily drinks, presented with pancreatic cancer 10 years younger than those who did not drink.

Comparing beer, wine and hard liquor, the team found that beer lowered the age of developing pancreatic cancer most, Anderson said. When she compared beer drinkers to non-beer drinkers, the effect was statistically significant; however, when she considered other variables that may affect cancer onset, the effect disappeared.

Cigarette smoking is already a well-known risk factor for pancreatic cancer. Heavy alcohol intake may induce chronic
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