ABO blood group and the risk of pancreatic cancer

Brian M. Wolpin, Andrew T. Chan, Patricia Hartge, Stephen J. Chanock, Peter Kraft, David J. Hunter, Edward L. Giovannucci, Charles S. Fuchs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

243 Scopus citations


Background Other than several rare, highly penetrant familial syndromes, genetic risk factors for sporadic pancreatic cancer are largely unknown. ABO blood type is an inherited characteristic that in previous small studies has been associated with the risk of gastrointestinal malignancies.MethodsWe separately examined the relationship between ABO blood type and the risk of incident pancreatic cancer in two large, independent, prospective cohort studies (the Nurses' Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study) that collected blood group data on 107503 US health professionals. Hazard ratios for pancreatic cancer by ABO blood type were calculated using Cox proportional hazards models with adjustment for other known risk factors, including age, tobacco use, body mass index, physical activity, and history of diabetes mellitus. All statistical tests were two-sided.ResultsDuring 927995 person-years of follow-up, 316 participants developed pancreatic cancer. ABO blood type was associated with the risk of developing pancreatic cancer (P =.004; log-rank test). Compared with participants with blood group O, those with blood groups A, AB, or B were more likely to develop pancreatic cancer (adjusted hazard ratios for incident pancreatic cancer were 1.32 [95% confidence interval {CI}=1.02 to 1.72], 1.51 [95% CI=1.02 to 2.23], and 1.72 [95% CI=1.25 to 2.38], respectively). The association between blood type and pancreatic cancer risk was nearly identical in the two cohorts (Pinteraction=.97). Overall, 17% of the pancreatic cancer cases were attributable to inheriting a non-O blood group (blood group A, B, or AB). The age-adjusted incidence rates for pancreatic cancer per 100000 person-years were 27 (95% CI=23 to 33) for participants with blood type O, 36 (95% CI=26 to 50) for those with blood type A, 41 (95% CI=31 to 56) for those with blood type AB, and 46 (95% CI=32 to 68) for those with blood type B.ConclusionsIn two large, independent populations, ABO blood type was statistically significantly associated with the risk of pancreatic cancer. Further studies are necessary to define the mechanisms by which ABO blood type or closely linked genetic variants may influence pancreatic cancer risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)424-431
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the National Cancer Institute
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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