Allergies and the risk of pancreatic cancer: A meta-analysis with review of epidemiology and biological mechanisms

Sara Gandini, Albert B. Lowenfels, Elizabeth M. Jaffee, Todd D. Armstrong, Patrick Maisonneuve

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Previous reports suggest that allergic disorders may protect against various types of cancer, but the association between history of allergy and pancreatic cancer risk has not been well studied. We did a systematic review and meta-analysis of published studies to evaluate the association of any type, and specific types, of allergy and the risk of pancreatic cancer. We did a comprehensive literature search using MEDLINE, PUBMED, and the ISI Web of Science databases to identify potential relevant case-control and cohort studies. Pooled relative risks (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were calculated using the fixed- and random-effects model. Fourteen population-based studies (4 cohort and 10 case-control studies) with a total of 3,040 pancreatic cancer cases fulfilled our inclusion criteria. A history of allergy was associated with a reduced risk of pancreatic cancer (RR, 0.82; 95% CI, 0.68-0.99). The risk reduction was stronger for allergies related to atopy (RR, 0.71; 95% CI, 0.64-0.80), but not for asthma (RR, 1.01; 95% CI, 0.77-1.31). There was no association between allergies related to food or drugs and pancreatic cancer (RR, 1.08; 95% CI, 0.74-1.58). Overall, there was no evidence of publication bias. Allergies, in particular those related to atopy, seem to be associated with a decreased risk of pancreatic cancer. The hyperactive immune system of allergic individuals may, therefore, in some way lead to increased surveillance and protect against pancreatic cancer development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1908-1916
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Oncology


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