AGA Logo Pancreatitis usually beginning as a sudden attack may occur when the pancreas becomes inflamed. This condition can be probably triggered by alcohol, smoking and several other factors. A latest study claims that the relative rate of alcohol-related chronic pancreatitis (CP) is lower than other causes. It was mentioned that patients with no identifiable cause for their disease and those with non-alcohol-related causes apparently represent a large subgroup, particularly among women.

At the time of the study, investigators analyzed data from patients with CP and controls enrolled in the North American Pancreatitis Study. In the groups, 44.5 percent of patients were diagnosed with CP due to alcohol consumption. And while 26.9 percent had non-alcohol related CP, 28.6 percent seemingly suffered from CP due to an unknown cause.

“One of the more remarkable observations is that in more than 50 percent of patients, alcohol was not considered as the causative factor of chronic pancreatitis,” said Gregory A. Coté, MD, MS, of Indiana University School of Medicine and lead author of this study. “Future analyses will likely identify previously unrecognized genetic factors and/or interaction between genes and environmental factors as potential explanations of disease development. In the meantime, the era of dismissing all cases of chronic pancreatitis as alcohol-induced has undoubtedly come to a close.”

It was pointed out that the current etiologic profile of CP patients may be quite different from historical data. Though alcohol remains the most common cause, a larger fraction of patients supposedly have non-alcoholic etiologies. More than a quarter of patients possibly have unidentifiable cause of disease, medically known as idiopathic CP. Among the various risk factors, smoking appeared independently linked with idiopathic CP.

The study is published in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.