Based on the latest research data, about 30% of pancreatic cancer cases are thought to be a direct result of cigarette smoking. People who smoke cigarettes are twice as likely to develop pancreatic cancer as people who do not smoke cigarettes. Additionally, the cancerous tumors that form as a result of cigarette smoking grow at an accelerated rate and develop approximately 10 years earlier than tumors not related to smoking.
Smoking and Pancreatic Cancer
All the tobacco products - cigarettes, cigars, pipes and chewing tobacco – have shown the clear tendency of the substantial increase in pancreatic cancer risk. A large Cancer Research UK study looking at lifestyle factors found that nearly 1 in 3 pancreatic cancers (about 30%) may be linked to smoking.
Cigarette smoke contains chemicals called nitrosamines. Nitrosamines are carcinogenic. They are found in some foods and drinks as well as in cigarette smoke. Scientists are not exactly sure why smoking affects pancreatic cancer risk, but they think it may be the nitrosamines.
In another study, researchers at Michigan State University found that the chemicals produced by the burning of tobacco products - polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs - interfere with communication between the body's cells. More importantly, the work showed that some of these chemicals don't necessarily initiate the cancer, but rather contribute to the promotion of it.
This research is the culmination of nearly 30 years of work in James Trosko's lab at MSU. It was in 1979 that Trosko, colleagues and students demonstrated that tumor-promoting chemicals interfered with a cell's ability to communicate with other cells. Later, this group isolated adult human pancreatic stem cells from human pancreatic tissue.
Subsequent published findings indicated that these stem cells appeared to be targets for cancer.
In contrary, a new meta analysis research has shown that exposure to second hand smoke does not increase pancreatic cancer risk.
Recent studies in Scandinavia have confirmed that chewing snus (a type of smokeless tobacco) increases the risk of pancreatic cancer as well.
Quitting smoking can reduce your risk of contracting pancreatic cancer
Quitting smoking reduces the risk of developing and dying from cancer. However, it takes a number of years after quitting for the risk of cancer to start to decline. This benefit increases the longer a person remains smoke free.
Some studies have estimated it can take up to 10 years before the risk begins to decline. A European-wide prospective study in 2009 however, showed that risk is reduced to the levels of a non-smoker after just five years of cessation.
Anyway, most researchers believe that quitting smoking for ten years will eliminate this risk.
So, if you do not smoke, don't start. If you do, quit.
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