What causes Pancreatic Cancer

What causes Pancreatic Cancer?

The passing of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs due to pancreatic cancer has drawn global and Indian attention to one of the most perilous forms of cancer. Pancreatic cancer ranks as the eighth most frequently diagnosed cancer in individuals over 40 years old, sparking concern among researchers and medical professionals worldwide.

In India, particularly in Mizoram and Tamil Nadu, the incidence of pancreatic cancer has raised alarms. While less common in developing nations compared to the West, the disease’s prevalence is rapidly escalating in India.

Each year, over 1 million individuals receive a pancreatic cancer diagnosis, with the cause remaining elusive to medical practitioners. The majority of cases occur in individuals aged 60 and above, with various theories surrounding its origins.

Researchers attribute pancreatic cancer to mutations in pancreatic cell DNA, leading to uncontrolled cell growth and tumor formation. Understanding how DNA mutations trigger cancerous growth has been a focal point of scientific inquiry.

DNA, responsible for carrying our genetic information and cellular functions, can harbor mutations that activate oncogenes or deactivate tumor suppressor genes, culminating in pancreatic cancer.

Certain risk factors, such as age, family history, race, and genetics, are beyond an individual’s control. However, lifestyle and habits play a significant role, with sedentary lifestyles, obesity, diabetes, smoking, and alcohol consumption heightening the risk.

Research suggests a potential correlation between high meat consumption and increased risk, while vegetable consumption may offer some protection. Nevertheless, risk factors provide only partial insights.

Numerous unhealthy habits, including smoking, chewing tobacco, excessive caffeine intake, alcohol consumption, stomach infections, cirrhosis, chronic pancreatitis, unbalanced diet, and stomach ulcers, have been linked to pancreatic cancer.

Genetic testing has emerged as a valuable tool for diagnosing pancreatic cancer, particularly among individuals with a history of hereditary pancreatitis. Notably, smoking and pancreatic cancer are intertwined, with smokers experiencing earlier onset of the disease, especially those with a family history.

Patients should receive counseling to abstain from tobacco use and moderate alcohol consumption. While conclusive data linking alcohol consumption to pancreatic cancer is lacking, its influence remains significant.

In conclusion, heightened awareness of risk factors, coupled with genetic testing and lifestyle modifications, is crucial in combating pancreatic cancer and improving patient outcomes.