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Int J Cancer. 2007 Jan 1;120(1):103-10.

Medical history, cigarette smoking and risk of acoustic neuroma: an international case-control study.

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Section of Epidemiology, Institute of Cancer Research, Sutton, United Kingdom.


Acoustic neuroma (vestibular schwannoma) is a benign tumor of the vestibulocochlear nerve. Its recorded incidence is increasing but risk factors for this tumor have scarcely been investigated. We conducted a population-based case-control study of risk factors for acoustic neuroma in the UK and Nordic countries, including 563 cases and 2,703 controls. Tumor risk was analyzed in relation to medical history and cigarette smoking. Risk of acoustic neuroma was significantly raised in parous compared with nulliparous women (OR = 1.7, 95% CI: 1.1-2.6), but was not related to age at first birth or number of children. Risk was not associated with a history of allergic disease, past head injury, past diagnosis of a neoplasm or birth characteristics, but was significantly raised for past diagnosis of epilepsy (OR = 2.5, 95% CI: 1.3-4.9). Tumor risk was significantly reduced in subjects who had ever regularly smoked cigarettes (OR = 0.7, 95% CI: 0.6-0.9), but the reduction applied only to current smokers (OR = 0.5, 95% CI: 0.4-0.6), not ex-smokers (OR = 1.0, 95% CI: 0.8-1.3). The reduced risk of acoustic neuroma in smokers and raised risk in parous women might relate to sex hormone levels, or smoking might suppress tumor growth, but effects of parity and smoking on timing of diagnosis of the tumor are also a potential explanation. The raised risk in relation to past diagnosis of epilepsy might be a surveillance artefact or imply that epilepsy and/or antiepileptic medication use predispose to acoustic neuroma. These findings need replication by other studies and possible mechanisms need to be clarified.

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