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World leading research bad news for pancreatitis sufferers

World leading research bad news for pancreatitis sufferers

The first comprehensive research to quantify how often patients with acute pancreatitis suffer recurrent bouts shows there is a high chance they will eventually go on to develop chronic pancreatitis.

The COSMOS (Clinical and epidemiOlogical inveStigations in Metabolism, nutritiOn, and pancreatic diseaseS) group, led by Dr Max Petrov from the Department of Surgery at the University of Auckland, analysed 14 clinical studies from around the world, involving almost 8500 patients.

The important results were published this week in the world’s premier journal for gastrointestinal diseases research, Gastroenterology – the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association.

“This research shows that a significant proportion of people who suffer from acute inflammation of the pancreas can go on to have permanent scarring of the organ, long after initial hospitalisation,” says Dr Petrov. “Smoking cessation and reducing alcohol consumption can help prevent this progression.”

“After just one episode of acute pancreatitis, there is a one in five chance of getting repeated episodes of pancreatitis and a one in ten chance of developing chronic pancreatitis,” he says.
“Patients with recurrent bouts have an increased risk of chronic disease, with one in three patients developing permanent damage to the pancreas.”

“The study showed that the most important modifiable risk factors for chronic damage are smoking and high alcohol consumption,” says Dr Petrov. “Men are also at significantly higher risk of chronic pancreatitis than women.”

Acute and chronic pancreatitis are pancreatic diseases that are on the rise, with more than 2500 New Zealanders hospitalised last year because of them. Both diseases pose a significant burden to patients and the economy. Acute pancreatitis is the most common disease that affects the pancreas, and is estimated to cost $2.6 billion per year in US hospitals.

Although chronic pancreatitis is less common and shows a smaller increase in incidence, it can have a negative impact on the ability of patients to perform normal daily activities, as well as reduces their employment rates and work productivity.

In addition, two to three decades after the diagnosis of chronic pancreatitis, patients have a mortality rate of up to 50 percent.


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