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Int J Epidemiol. 1991 Mar;20(1):39-44.

Dietary indicators of oral and pharyngeal cancer.

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  • 1Instituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri, Milano, Italy.


The relationship between frequency of consumption of a selected number of indicator foods and oral and oropharyngeal cancer risk was analysed in a case-control study conducted in Northern Italy on 105 cases of oral and pharyngeal cancer and 1169 controls in hospital for acute, non-neoplastic or digestive diseases. Besides significant and strong direct associations with tobacco (relative risk, RR = 11.0 for current versus never smokers) and alcohol (RR = 5.8 for upper versus lower consumption tertile), consumption of six food items (milk, meat, cheese, carrots, green vegetables and fruit) were inversely and significantly related to oral and pharyngeal cancer risk. The strongest protection was apparently related to frequent fruit consumption, with RRs of 0.8 and 0.2 in the two highest tertiles. Allowance for major potential confounding factors, including tobacco, alcohol and social class indicators explained only part of the dietary correlates observed. The two items remaining significant after multivariate analysis were fruit (RR = 0.3 for the upper tertile) and alcohol (RR = 3.8 for the upper tertile). The associations observed may simply reflect a generally poorer nutritional status in the cases, although the observation that fruit consumption appears to be a particularly important protective factor against oropharyngeal cancer is of potential interest, in terms of aetiological clues and preventive implications.

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