Tag Archives: risk factors

Are You at Risk for Pancreatic Cancer?

While some forms of cancer have early symptoms, pancreatic cancer is a silent killer that will claim an estimated 41,780 American lives in 2016 alone. So, what is known about this under-discussed form of cancer? Who is at risk, and can it be prevented? Let’s try to tackle some of these questions:

Who Should be Screened?

While it is true that pancreatic cancer can strike anyone, with or without risk factors, not everyone falls into the category of those who should undergo the in-depth screening process for pancreatic cancer. At risk individuals should most certainly be screened by a medical professional, as most times pancreatic cancer won’t cause any symptoms until the disease has advanced to the later, and less treatable stages.

Are Diabetics at Increased Risk for Pancreatic Cancer?

Yes. Particularly those over 50 with new-onset diabetes. According to University of Chicago Medicine, approximately 85% of those who develop pancreatic cancer have new-onset diabetes or hyperglycemia. These people have a 5-8 times the risk of developing pancreatic cancer within 3 years of their diabetes or hyperglycemia diagnosis.

Who Else is At Risk for Developing Pancreatic Cancer?

Aside from those with new-onset diabetics, people who fall into the ‘at risk’ category for developing pancreatic cancer include:

  • People who have two or more first-degree relatives with pancreatic cancer or who have one who was diagnosed under the age of 30
  • People who have had pancreatic cysts
  • Smokers are up to 3 times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than non-smokers
  • People who have chronic pancreatitis may be at higher risk
  • Those who have had hepatitis B or cirrhosis of the liver fall into the ‘at risk’ category
  • Those with high levels of the H. Pylori bacteria are at higher risk of developing some cancers, most commonly stomach cancer, but may also be at increase risk for pancreatic cancer
  • People who have been chronically exposed to certain chemicals such as benzene, petrochemicals or pesticides may be at increased risk
  • People with certain rare inherited risk-increasing syndromes are at higher risk

People who are over 50 years of age with any of the above-listed risk factors are at higher risk than those under 50 (90% of pancreatic cases occur in people older than 55), and more men go on to develop this form of cancer than women.

What Associated Syndromes Increase the Risk of Pancreatic Cancer?

According to the American Cancer Society, people with the following genetic syndromes may be at higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer:

  • Hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome (mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes)
  • Familial atypical multiple mole melanoma (FAMMM) syndrome
  • Lynch syndrome (also known as hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC)
  • Peutz-Jeghers syndrome (caused by mutated VHL gene)
  • Type 1 neurofibromatosis
  • Type 1 Multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN1)

That’s all for our look at the risk factors of pancreatic cancer. Stay tuned next for pancreatic cancer prevention tips. Thanks for visiting DocChat!



Breast Cancer Causes and Risk Factors

Breast Cancer Causes and Risk Factors

Breast cancer develops as a result of mutated breast cells. In approximately 10% of these cases, the mutations are acquired through genetic predispositions, while most cases of breast cancer are influenced by a combination of environmental, lifestyle or hormonal risk factors. In many of these cases the exact cause of the cell mutation will never fully be known.

Risk Factors Versus Causes

The direct causes of breast cancer are not well understood as it is a very complex disease, however we do know that common risk factors often play important roles in the development of different types of cancer. Having one or more risk factors doesn’t necessarily mean you will develop breast cancer, nor does being a carrier of certain genes, however risk factors do put you at greater risk of eventually developing the disease.

Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

Some of the known risk factors that may contribute to the development of breast cancer include:

  • Inheriting certain genes such as BRCA1 and BRCA2
  • Having a close relative with breast cancer
  • Aging. While some women develop breast cancer at a young age, generally your risk increases as you get older.
  • Being female
  • Ethnicity. Research illustrates that African-American women are at a slightly higher risk of getting breast cancer than Caucasian women.
  • Being exposed to radiation
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Drinking alcohol regularly
  • Undergoing hormone therapy
  • Having already had breast cancer
  • Early menstruation or late menopause – It is thought that estrogen exposure has something to do with breast cancer development.
  • Never becoming pregnant or having children late in life
  • Smoking increases the risk of most types of cancer, including breast cancer as there are over 70 known carcinogens in cigarette smoke.

The Bottom Line

These are not the only risk factors, for example, research suggests that women with chronic nutritional deficiencies, exposure to toxins or who suffer chronic inflammation may be at greater risk for developing breast cancer as well. While certain risk factors such as age, ethnicity and genetics are unchangeable, others such as weight or lifestyle choices like drinking and smoking are modifiable. Therefor, it is important to make all the healthy lifestyle choices you can if you wish to put yourself in a lower risk category for breast cancer development.

That concludes our look at the risk factors that can help contribute to breast cancer, keep an eye out for future posts on the topic. Thanks for visiting DocChat!








Type 2 Diabetes – Know Your Risk

Type 2 diabetes is all-too common these days. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, more than 24 million Americans are afflicted with diabetes, but approximately 6 million are currently undiagnosed. Furthermore, over 57 million adults have prediabetes. Diabetes accounts for over 70,000 deaths annually, making it the seventh leading cause of death in the country.

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes results when the immune system goes on the fritz and attacks the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, this type is typically inherited and present at an early age. Type 2 diabetes develops when the body stops producing enough insulin to sustain it, or the body can’t use the insulin the pancreas does produce (insulin resistance). This happens over time when the body slowly stops responding to insulin signals, so insulin production rises and rises, in turn the blood-sugar levels also dangerously rise.

What Causes Type 2 Diabetes?

While many people may have a genetic predisposition to disease, up to 90% of cases are preventable by keeping a healthy weight, not smoking or drinking too much, eating healthy and exercising regularly. Most often the gradual resistance to insulin that results in diabetes is caused by lifestyle factors such as poor diet, inactivity, and smoking.

Complications of Diabetes

Diabetes can lead to death by diabetic comas for those who do not have their disease under control. Diabetes is also the number one cause of kidney failure as well as a key contributor to blindness among American adults. It can also lead to nerve damage or even limb loss. Diabetes often goes hand-in-hand with cardiovascular disease as well, as both conditions are exacerbated by high blood pressure.

Other Risk Factors

According to the CDC, aside from diet, activity level and smoking, other risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:

  • Age: People over 45 years of age are more likely to develop diabetes.
  • Genetics: Having a close family member with the disease drastically increases your odds.
  • Ethnicity: People of African American, American Indian, Pacific Islander, Hispanic American or Asian American are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Having high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
  • Having had gestational diabetes or having given birth to a baby weighting over 9 pounds.

Risk Factors Do Not Necessarily Seal Your Fate

Certainly some of these risk factors cannot be avoided such as age, ethnicity or genetics, but most cases are still preventable because even if non-modifiable risk factors are present, diabetes is still highly dependant on lifestyle. Therefor, you may have the ability to avoid the disease if you take extra lifestyle precautions knowing you are at higher risk. You can calculate your general risk of developing type 2 diabetes here to see just how seriously you should be taking the threat.

What is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes is more of a warning sign than a guarantee of developing diabetes. Most times it is still reversible, but by the time blood-sugars rise uncontrollably and turn into full-blown diabetes, it is no longer reversible. Prediabetes is a category of people who have higher than normal blood sugar levels, but don’t quite have levels that fall within the diabetic range. It is also sometimes referred to as impaired glucose tolerance (IGT). Prediabetes puts you at higher risk of developing both diabetes and cardiovascular disease, so it is important to take immediate action to control your health if you are diagnosed with prediabetes.

Check back for Type 2 Diabetes Prevention tips next! Thanks for visiting DocChat! If you have any questions or concerns about diabetes, feel free to sign up for a video conference with one of our board certified physicians!



Heart Matters (Edition #1) Facts and Figures

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 735,000 Americans have heart attacks annually. Moreover, there are a whopping 610,000 cardiac-related fatalities in the Unites States every year. Because of the alarming prevalence of cardiovascular disease, we wanted to start a regular Heart Matters feature. The second edition will focus on a heart-friendly diet.

Risk Factors

Luckily you can control some of the risk factors of heart disease, we will further explore some of these in future editions of Heart Matters. The World Health Organization (WHO) lists various modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors of heart disease including:

Reversible Factors:

  1. Hypertension
  2. Sedentary lifestyle (lack of exercise)
  3. Smoking
  4. Drinking in excess
  5. Unhealthy, non-nutritious diet
  6. Being overweight or obese

Unavoidable factors:

  1. Gender (while females are also at high risk, men are at higher risk)
  2. Age
  3. Family history
  4. Comorbid diseases such as diabetes

7 Cardiovascular Disease Fast Facts

  • Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States
  • Heart disease kills more people than all types of cancer combined
  • Costs of heart disease exceed 320 billion dollars annually
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women
  • According to the American Heart Foundation 90% of women have at least one risk factor
  • 1 in every 4 American deaths are due to cardiovascular disease
  • Most heart disease can be prevented or curtailed through lifestyle changes


If you have any questions or concerns about your heart health, our board certified DocChat physicians are more than qualified to help so feel free to sign up today for a video consultation.