This review summarizes data on the occurrence, the trends, and the life-style, environmental, occupational and genetic determinants of pancreatic cancer. Epidemiologic evidence implicates tobacco smoking as one cause. The evidence regarding alcohol consumption is inconsistent. Although both positive and inconclusive findings are encountered, the bulk of the evidence on coffee consumption is negative. Fat intake is linked with obesity and diabetes mellitus, which are risk factors for pancreatic cancer. Fruit and vegetable consumption appears to be protective. No occupational or environmental agent has been confirmed to increase the risk, but epidemiologic evidence is inconsistent, Little is known about the role of genetic polymorphisms of metabolic enzymes in pancreas carcinogenesis. Pancreatic cancer shows high rates of mutations of Ki-ras and losses or mutations of tumor suppressor genes (p53, p16INK4A, and SMAD4/DPC-4). Ki-ras mutations have been associated with life-style factors in relation to pancreatic cancer, but the evidence is still scant and inconsistent.