Heavy Drinkers at Higher Risk for Pancreatic Cancer

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According to a new study, heavy drinkers have a greater chance of dying from pancreatic cancer. Individuals who never smoke but have three or more drinks of hard liquor per day have a 36 percent higher risk of dying from the disease than those who don’t drink, say researchers.

"Overall, these findings add to the evidence that heavy alcohol intake is an independent risk factor for pancreatic cancer," said lead researcher Susan Gapstur, vice president of epidemiology for the American Cancer Society.

"Furthermore, they underscore the importance of the American Cancer Society guideline for cancer prevention recommending that if you drink alcoholic beverages, limit consumption to no more than one drink per day if you are a woman or two drinks per day if you are a man," she said.

To come to their conclusions, researchers collected data on over a million men and women. Then, over the course of 24 years of follow-ups, 6,847 of the people involved died from pancreatic cancer.

"In this large, prospective study, we were able to examine the association between alcohol intake and pancreatic cancer mortality in never-smokers, and across range of daily intake," she said.

"This association appeared to be only with liquor intake, and not with beer or wine intake," she noted. "Reasons for the differences by beverage type are unclear, but might be due to a higher amount of alcohol actually consumed in a single drink of liquor compared to wine or beer."

This study was published in the March 14 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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