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Deaths from pancreatic cancer rise, fall along racial lines
Date:11/12/2013

egan to decrease. However, death rates continued to be substantially higher in blacks than in whites in both men and women.

The authors say the difference in mortality trends between blacks and whites are not fully explained by differences in patterns of smoking, widely recognized as the main contributor to decreases in pancreatic cancer death rates. Smoking prevalence has decreased in both blacks and whites since 1965. The authors surmise that other factors may have modified the impacts of smoking on pancreatic cancer, and say further studies on the mechanisms by which smoking causes pancreatic cancer are warranted.

While obesity has been linked with a 20% increased death risk from pancreatic cancer, the lack of an increase in pancreas cancer mortality rates in blacks, among whom obesity is more prevalent, would make obesity alone an unlikely culprit. In addition, improvements in diagnostic techniques may have contributed to increasing incidence and mortality rates among whites by identifying pancreatic cancers that previously went undiagnosed. But a lack of reliable long-term data makes it difficult to evaluate the potential influence of other suspected risk factors, like meat and vegetable intake. The authors say the decreasing mortality trend in African Americans over the past 10 to 15 years is particularly interesting, as the factors that are likely contributing to recent increases in pancreatic cancer deaths in whites (e.g.: obesity, diabetes, and improved diagnosis) have also increased in African Americans.

"This study underscores the need for urgent action on several fronts," said Ahmedin Jemal, DVM PhD, senior author of the paper. "We need to invest more into pancreatic cancer research to understand why this disease is rising or falling in different races. In the meantime, we have to address modifiable risk factors such as obesity and smoking to reduce the future burden of pancreatic cancer in all populations."


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Contact: David Sampson
david.sampson@cancer.org
American Cancer Society
Source:Eurekalert

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