Risk factors for pancreatic cancer were examined in a cohort study of 13,979 residents of a retirement community. After 9 years of follow-up, 65 incident cases of pancreatic cancer were identified. An increased risk of pancreatic cancer was associated with a history of diabetes and cholecystectomy. Higher intake of vegetables, fruits, dietary beta-carotene, and vitamin C were each associated with a reduced risk of pancreatic cancer, although none of these associations was statistically significant. Risk of pancreatic cancer decreased with increasing tea consumption but was unrelated to coffee consumption. No strong or consistent association was seen between either smoking or alcohol consumption and risk of pancreatic cancer, but a consistent and significant increase in risk followed cholecystectomy. © 1994 Wiley-Liss, Inc.