Family history of cancer, Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, and pancreatic cancer risk

Br J Cancer. 2019 Apr;120(8):848-854. doi: 10.1038/s41416-019-0426-5. Epub 2019 Mar 14.


Background: Individuals with a family history of cancer may be at increased risk of pancreatic cancer. Ashkenazi Jewish (AJ) individuals carry increased risk for pancreatic cancer and other cancer types.

Methods: We examined the association between family history of cancer, AJ heritage, and incident pancreatic cancer in 49 410 male participants of the prospective Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Hazard ratios (HRs) were estimated using multivariable-adjusted Cox proportional hazards models.

Results: During 1.1 million person-years (1986-2016), 452 participants developed pancreatic cancer. Increased risk of pancreatic cancer was observed in individuals with a family history of pancreatic (HR, 2.79; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.28-6.07) or breast cancer (HR, 1.40; 95% CI, 1.01-1.94). There was a trend towards higher risk of pancreatic cancer in relation to a family history of colorectal cancer (HR, 1.21; 95% CI, 0.95-1.55) or AJ heritage (HR, 1.29; 95% CI, 0.94-1.77). The risk was highly elevated among AJ men with a family history of breast or colorectal cancer (HR, 2.61 [95% CI, 1.41-4.82] and 1.92 [95% CI, 1.05-3.49], respectively).

Conclusion: Family history of pancreatic cancer was associated with increased risk of this malignancy. Family history of breast or colorectal cancer was associated with the increased risk among AJ men.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Jews / genetics*
  • Male
  • Medical History Taking*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Risk Factors