Pancreatic cancer

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Reducing your risk for pancreatic cancer

You may lower your risk of developing pancreatic cancer by doing the following.

Be a non-smoker and avoid second-hand smoke

Smoking tobacco accounts for 20%–30% of all pancreatic cancers. Not smoking is the best way to lower your risk for pancreatic cancer.

Live smoke-free. If you smoke, get help to quit. Don’t use any tobacco products, including chewing tobacco, cigars, cigarillos and pipes. Avoid second-hand smoke.

Maintain a healthy body weight

Research shows that obesity increases your risk for pancreatic cancer. You can lower your risk by having a healthy body weight. Eating well and being physically active can help you have a healthy body weight.

Limit the amount of alcohol you drink

Some studies show that heavy alcohol use may increase your risk for pancreatic cancer. If you choose to drink alcohol, keep it to less than 1 drink a day for women and less than 2 drinks a day for men. The less you drink, the more you reduce your risk.

Be physically active

Studies show that physical activity may lower the risk for pancreatic cancer.

Limit the amount of red and processed meats you eat

Studies show that eating a lot of red meat or processed meat may put you at higher risk for pancreatic cancer.

Follow occupational health and safety guidelines

Exposure to certain chemicals and working in certain occupations may increase the risk for pancreatic cancer. Follow occupational and safety guidelines when working with hazardous chemicals.

Find out if you’re at high risk for pancreatic cancer

Some people can have a higher than average risk for pancreatic cancer. Talk to your doctor about your risk. If you are at higher than average risk, you may need a personal plan for testing.

More information about preventing cancer

Learn about what you can do to prevent cancer.

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Great progress has been made

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Some cancers, such as thyroid and testicular, have survival rates of over 90%. Other cancers, such as pancreatic, brain and esophageal, continue to have very low survival rates.

Learn more