A combined healthy lifestyle score and risk of pancreatic cancer in a large cohort study

Arch Intern Med. 2009 Apr 27;169(8):764-70. doi: 10.1001/archinternmed.2009.46.


Background: Smoking, alcohol use, diet, body mass index (calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared), and physical activity have been studied independently in relation to pancreatic cancer. We generated a healthy lifestyle score to investigate their joint effect on risk of pancreatic cancer.

Methods: In the prospective National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study, a total of 450 416 participants aged 50 to 71 years completed the baseline food frequency questionnaire (1995-1996) eliciting diet and lifestyle information and were followed up through December 31, 2003. We identified 1057 eligible incident pancreatic cancer cases. Participants were scored on 5 modifiable lifestyle factors as unhealthy (0 points) or healthy (1 point) on the basis of current epidemiologic evidence. Participants received 1 point for each respective lifestyle factor: nonsmoking, limited alcohol use, adherence to the Mediterranean dietary pattern, body mass index (> or =18 and <25), or regular physical activity. A combined score (0-5 points) was calculated by summing the scores of the 5 factors. Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to estimate relative risk (95% confidence interval) for pancreatic cancer.

Results: Compared with the lowest combined score (0 points), the highest score (5 points) was associated with a 58% reduction in risk of developing pancreatic cancer in all participants (relative risk, 0.42; 95% confidence interval, 0.26-0.66; P(trend) <.001). Scores of less than 5 points were associated with 27% of pancreatic cancer cases in our population.

Conclusion: Findings from this large study suggest that having a high score, as opposed to a low score, on an index combining 5 modifiable lifestyle factors substantially reduces the risk of developing pancreatic cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Body Mass Index
  • Diet, Mediterranean / statistics & numerical data
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / etiology
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology