Reduced risk of pancreatic cancer associated with asthma and nasal allergies

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Abstract

Objective

Studies indicate an inverse association between ductal adenocarcinoma of the pancreas (PDAC) and nasal allergies. However, controversial findings are reported for the association with asthma. Understanding PDAC risk factors will help us to implement appropriate strategies to prevent, treat and diagnose this cancer. This study assessed and characterised the association between PDAC and asthma and corroborated existing reports regarding the association between allergies and PDAC risk.

Design

Information about asthma and allergies was collated from 1297 PDAC cases and 1024 controls included in the PanGenEU case–control study. Associations between PDAC and atopic diseases were studied using multilevel logistic regression analysis. Meta-analyses of association studies on these diseases and PDAC risk were performed applying random-effects model.

Results

Asthma was associated with lower risk of PDAC (OR 0.64, 95% CI 0.47 to 0.88), particularly long-standing asthma (>=17 years, OR 0.39, 95% CI 0.24 to 0.65). Meta-analysis of 10 case–control studies sustained our results (metaOR 0.73, 95% CI 0.59 to 0.89). Nasal allergies and related symptoms were associated with lower risk of PDAC (OR 0.66, 95% CI 0.52 to 0.83 and OR 0.59, 95% CI 0.46 to 0.77, respectively). These results were supported by a meta-analysis of nasal allergy studies (metaOR 0.6, 95% CI 0.5 to 0.72). Skin allergies were not associated with PDAC risk.

Conclusions

This study shows a consistent inverse association between PDAC and asthma and nasal allergies, supporting the notion that atopic diseases are associated with reduced cancer risk. These results point to the involvement of immune and/or inflammatory factors that may either foster or restrain pancreas carcinogenesis warranting further research to understand the molecular mechanisms driving this association.

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