New information about the cause and treatment of chronic pancreatitis sheds light on old ways of thinking about the condition, according to Christopher Forsmark, MD, who addressed the subject this week during a joint conference of the American Gastroenterological Association and the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy in Coronado, California.
Researchers have identified several mutations of genes that could predispose someone to chronic pancreatitis. Chronic alcohol abuse is no longer considered the main culprit of the condition, particularly in women, but that news has not reached everyone in the business of health care, said Forsmark.
Patients are often still asked about their drinking habits when they seek treatment for symptoms. “They go to the ER, and the first thing the nurse says is, ‘How much do you drink?’ When they say, ‘I don’t drink,’ nobody believes them,” said Forsmark. “
While it is still an important contributing factor, alcohol consumption is now much less commonly identified as the cause of chronic pancreatitis. According to studies that tried to quantify how many daily alcoholic drinks would lead to the condition, the answer is “a lot,” said Forsmark, roughly five a day for five to 10 years.