A population-based, case-control study of pancreatic cancer based on direct interviews with 307 white and 179 black incident cases and 1164 white and 945 black population controls was conducted in three areas of the United States to determine the role alcohol drinking plays as a risk factor for pancreatic cancer and to estimate the extent to which it may explain the higher incidence of pancreatic cancer in blacks compared to whites. Our findings indicate that alcohol drinking at the levels typically consumed by the general population of the United States is probably not a risk factor for pancreatic cancer. Our data suggest, however, that heavy alcohol drinking may be related to pancreatic cancer risk. Among men, blacks and whites who drank at least 57 drinks/week had odds ratios (ORs) of 2.2 [95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.9–5.6] and 1.4 (95% CI = 0.6-3.2), respectively. Among women, blacks who drank 8 to <21 drinks/week had an OR of 1.8 (95% CI = 0.8-4.0), and those who drank at least 21 drinks/week had an OR of 2.5 (95% CI = 1.02-5.9), but whites with the same levels of alcohol intake experienced no increased risk. Compared to whites, blacks had significantly higher ORs associated with heavy alcohol drinking (≥57 drinks/week) in men (P = 0.04) and with moderate-to-heavy drinking (≥8 drinks/week) in women (P = 0.03). Additional research is needed to determine whether heavy alcohol drinking is causally related to pancreatic cancer and whether the risk of alcohol-related pancreatic cancer is greater in blacks than in whites.
This research was performed under National Cancer Institute contracts N01-CP-51090, N01-CP-51089, N01-CP-51092, N01-CN-05225, N01-CN-31022, and N01-CN-05227.