Gene-by-environment interactions in pancreatic cancer: Implications for prevention

Rick J. Jansen, Xiang Lin Tan, Gloria M. Petersen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Pancreatic cancer (PC†) has been estimated to have higher incidence and correspondingly higher mortality rates in more developed regions worldwide. Overall, the age-adjusted incidence rate is 4.9/105 and age-adjusted mortality rate is at 4.8/105. We review here our current knowledge of modifiable risk factors (cigarette smoking, obesity, diet, and alcohol) for PC, genetic variants implicated by genome-wide association studies, possible genetic interactions with risk factors, and prevention strategies to provide future research directions that may further our understanding of this complex disease. Cigarette smoking is consistently associated with a two-fold increased PC risk. PC associations with dietary intake have been largely inconsistent, with the potential exception of certain unsaturated fatty acids decreasing risk and well-done red meat or meat mutagens increasing risk. There is strong evidence to support that obesity (and related measures) increase risk of PC. Only the heaviest alcohol drinkers seem to be at an increased risk of PC. Currently, key prevention strategies include avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption and adopting a healthy lifestyle. Screening technologies and PC chemoprevention are likely to become more sophisticated, but may only apply to those at high risk. Risk stratification may be improved by taking into account gene environment interactions. Research on these modifiable risk factors is key to reducing the incidence of PC and understanding who in the population can be considered high risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-126
Number of pages12
JournalYale Journal of Biology and Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015


  • Genetic polymorphisms
  • Modifiable risk factors
  • PC
  • Prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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