Acute pancreatitis is one of the most frequent gastrointestinal causes of hospital admission in the United States. Chronic pancreatitis, although lower in incidence, significantly reduces patients' quality of life. Pancreatic cancer is associated with a high mortality rate and is one of the top 5 causes of death from cancer. The burden of pancreatic disorders is expected to increase over time. The risk and etiology of pancreatitis differ with age and sex, and all pancreatic disorders affect the black population more than any other race. Gallstones are the most common cause of acute pancreatitis, and early cholecystectomy eliminates the risk of future attacks. Alcohol continues to be the single most important risk factor for chronic pancreatitis. Smoking is an independent risk factor for acute and chronic pancreatitis, and its effects could synergize with those of alcohol. Significant risk factors for pancreatic cancer include smoking and non-O blood groups. Alcohol abstinence and smoking cessation can alter the progression of pancreatitis and reduce recurrence; smoking cessation is the most effective strategy to reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer.