The researchers investigated genomes of more than 4,300 pancreatic cancer patients and more than 4,500 people without the disease. They found that that people with variants of the ABO gene that produce the blood types A, B or AB are at high risk of pancreatic cancer. Those with blood type O were not found to have increased risk for the disease.

The findings matched with the previous research that showed an increased risk of pancreatic and gastric cancer among people with blood types A, B and AB.

Although it will take much more work, this finding may lead to improved diagnostic and therapeutic interventions that are so desperately needed, said study co-author Patricia Hartge, of the division of cancer epidemiology and genetics at the US National Cancer Institute.