Study finds potential link between opioid use, pancreatic cancer

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Opioid use might increase a person’s risk of developing pancreatic cancer, according to Rush University Medical Center researchers.

As the rate of opioid use has increased in the United States, so has the rates of pancreatic cancer. Studies conducted in West Central Asia have suggested that opium use to increase the risk of pancreatic cancer.

The Rush University study, Opioid Use as a Potential Risk Factor for Pancreatic Cancer in the United States, is the first in the United States.

Researchers attempted to find a connection between increased pancreatic cancer between 1999 and 2016 and opioid use. They examined data on opioid use from the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program and data on pancreatic cancer from the U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group. From this, they examined lifestyle and behavioral factors.

Data suggests a link between opioid use and pancreatic cancer risk. Additional studies on a larger population group or longitudinal datasets are required to directly establish a link between opioids and pancreatic cancer.

Once a link is confirmed, this could guide doctors to chose non-narcotic pain control approaches for patients.

In 2017, more than 191 million opioid prescriptions were given to patients.

Of patients who were given opioid prescriptions for chronic pain, 12 percent developed opioid use disorder, and 29 percent misused opioids.

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