Pancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasms (PNENs) represent 10% of all pancreatic tumors by prevalence. Their incidence has reportedly increased over recent decades in parallel with that of pancreatic adenocarcinoma. PNENs are relatively rare, and of the few institutions that have published potential risk factors, findings have been heterogeneous. Our objective was to investigate the association between potential risk and protective factors for the occurrence of sporadic PNENs across a European population from several institutions. A multinational European case–control study was conducted to examine the association of selected environmental, family and medical exposure factors using a standardized questionnaire in face-to-face interviews. A ratio of 1:3 cases to controls were sex and age matched at each study site. Adjusted univariate and multivariate logistic regression analysis were performed for statistically significant factors. The following results were obtained: In 201 cases and 603 controls, non-recent onset diabetes (OR 2.09, CI 1.27–3.46) was associated with an increased occurrence of PNENs. The prevalence of non-recent onset diabetes was higher both in cases with metastatic disease (TNM stage III–IV) or advanced grade (G3) at the time of diagnosis. The use of metformin in combination with insulin was also associated with a more aggressive phenotype. Drinking coffee was more frequent in cases with localized disease at diagnosis. Our study concluded that non-recent onset diabetes was associated with an increased occurrence of PNENs and the combination of metformin and insulin was consistent with a more aggressive PNEN phenotype. In contrast to previous studies, smoking, alcohol and first-degree family history of cancer were not associated with PNEN occurrence.