by EBSCO Medical Review Board

A risk factor is something that makes your chances of having cancer higher. Some of these can't be changed, such as your genes or your family’s health record. But, many can be changed. Talk to your doctor about the best ways to do this.

  • Quitting smoking is the biggest step in protecting yourself against most types of cancers. Smoking also hinders your immune system. This means it can take longer to feel better when you’re sick. The sooner you quit smoking, the sooner your body can heal.
  • Drink in moderation—Drinking too much alcohol is a cause of chronic pancreatitis. This raises the risk of pancreatic cancer. This is 2 drinks or fewer a day for a man and 1 drink or less a day for a woman. Talk to your doctor if you are having trouble controlling how much you drink.
  • Stay away from chemicals at your job—If you work with a pesticide called DDT. Take steps to protect yourself. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Environmental Protection Agency have tips on how to do this.
  • Control other health problems
    • Lose weight if you need to. Keeping a healthy weight will also lower the risk of other health problems. Talk to a dietitian who can help you lose weight safely.
    • If you have diabetes, follow your care plan. If you’re having problems doing so, your doctor will help you find a plan that works for you.
    • Seek care for heartburn or other digestive problems. They may be linked to having too much stomach acid or ulcers.


Can pancreatic cancer be prevented? American Cancer Society website. Available at: Accessed October 3, 2020.

General information about pancreatic cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: Accessed October 3, 2020.

Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: . Accessed October 3, 2020.

Pancreatic cancer: Risk factors. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at: . Accessed October 3, 2020.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
  • Review Date: 09/2020
  • Update Date: 12/16/2020