A new study links heavy smoking and drinking with an earlier onset of pancreatic cancer. While the disease is generally diagnosed at an average age of 72, heavy smokers with pancreatic cancer were diagnosed at age 62, and heavy drinkers at age 61, the study found.
The harmful effects of heavy smoking and drinking could be reversed, the study concluded. After 10 years, people who were formerly heavy smokers or drinkers and had stopped did not face any extra risk of an earlier diagnosis.
Lead researchers Dr. Michelle Anderson of the University of Michigan Health System said it is known that smoking is a strong risk factor for pancreatic cancer, UPI reports. In a news release, she added that alcohol causes oxidative damage to the pancreas, which can ultimately lead to cancer.
She studied 811 patients with pancreatic cancer. Heavy smokers were defined as those who smoked more than one pack a day. Heavy drinking was defined as having three average drinks a day.
The results appear in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.