University of Auckland research says that sufferers of pancreatitis have a high likelihood of their condition worsening if they fail to stop smoking and to cut alcohol consumption.
Researchers said their analysis of 14 clinical studies from around the world, involving almost 8,500 patients, was the first comprehensive research to quantify how often patients with acute pancreatitis suffered recurrent bouts.
It also showed a high chance they would eventually go on to develop chronic pancreatitis, study leader Dr Max Petrov said in a statement.
After just one episode of acute pancreatitis, a patient had a one in five chance of getting repeated episodes of pancreatitis and a one in 10 chance of developing chronic pancreatitis.
"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 hospitalization," said Petrov.
"Smoking cessation and reducing alcohol consumption can help prevent this progression," he said.
Men were at significantly higher risk of chronic pancreatitis than women.
Acute and chronic pancreatitis were pancreatic diseases that were on the rise, with more than 2,500 New Zealanders hospitalized last year.
Chronic pancreatitis could affect the ability of patients to perform normal daily activities, as well as reducing their employment rates and work productivity, and patients had a death rate of up to 50 percent two to three decades after diagnosis.