Previous studies inconsistently have linked alcohol and pancreatic cancer. Dr. Gupta said his study is different, however, because the researchers collected more detailed information on alcohol consumption and binge drinking than other studies and because the researchers were able to analyze the data for multiple factors that previously hadn't been considered in great detail.
In the current study, researchers used structured questionnaires to interview pancreatic cancer patients in the San Francisco area diagnosed between 1995 and 1999 and compared those results with those of control participants matched by sex, age and county of residence.
The 532 cancer patients ranged in age from 21 to 85, with the majority between 60 and 80 years of age. Fifty-five percent of study participants were men; 83 percent of them were Caucasian; and most of them were of normal weight with some college education. The 1,701 control participants were of similar demographics.
Dr. Gupta said more research is needed to understand the differences in pancreatic cancer risk between men and women and to understand why heavy alcohol use and binge drinking may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer in men.
The next step, Dr. Gupta said, will be to see if other studies with detailed information on alcohol consumption and binge drinking have similar results.
Cancer of the pancreas, an organ important for digestion and production of hormones, has the lowest overall five-year survival rate of all specific cancers. Early signs of pancreatic cancer are difficult to diagnose, partly because the organ is located deep in the upper abdomen. Mortality rates have changed little in the past three decades, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Dr. Elizabeth Holly, who was the prin
|Contact: LaKisha Ladson|
UT Southwestern Medical Center