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Chronic alcoholism can cause pancreatitis by damaging the pancreas, which is the organ responsible for producing enzymes to digest food and regulating blood sugar levels. Heavy alcohol consumption over a long period of time can lead to inflammation and swelling of the pancreas, which can eventually cause permanent damage to the organ. This damage can also lead to the development of pancreatic cysts and, in some cases, pancreatic cancer. Pancreatitis caused by alcoholism can have serious complications, including malnutrition, diabetes, and organ failure, and can be life-threatening if left untreated.