According to WebMD, doctors are unsure about what causes pancreatic cancer as of 2014. Pancreatic cancer begins as a DNA mutation in a pancreatic cell, which then proliferates and spreads. The origin of these mutations is unclear, but genetics is thought to be a contributing factor. Obesity, diabetes, poor dietary habits, smoking and malnutrition are all considered to be risk factors for contracting pancreatic cancer.
Cancer Research UK states that additional risk factors include interfering illnesses, such as stomach ulcers, hepatitis viral infections, oral diseases and a family history of pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is most often caused by a chronic addiction to alcohol, so patients need to treat underlying problems with alcohol to improve their overall health. Patients who suffer with various cancers, such as breast cancer, lung cancer and pharynx cancer, are believed to be at an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer. This is especially true of patients who receive radiotherapy as a form of treatment.
Many of the studies conducted on risk factors related to pancreatic cancer are inconclusive, notes WebMD. Evidence often points to a link between two elements, but this does not mean that the link substantiates an actual cause for illness. Cancer Research UK recommends that people adopt a healthy diet, quit smoking and engage in frequent exercise to minimize their risk of developing pancreatic cancer.