Background: A high incidence of nasopharyngeal carcinoma has been reported from Nagaland, though it is considered to be a rare neoplasm in India. No case-control study to identify the risk factors of cancer nasopharynx has been conducted in this region. This study was undertaken to identify dietary and environmental risk factors for nasopharyngeal carcinoma relevant to this region.
Methods: A matched case-control study using neighbourhood controls was conducted. For each of the 47 cases identified, 2 apparently healthy neighbourhood controls were matched for age, sex and ethnicity. All information on dietary, environmental, social and demographic factors was collected. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analysis using maximum likelihood method was used to analyse data.
Results: Consumption of smoked meat was found to be the risk factor for nasopharyngeal carcinoma (adjusted odds ratio = 10.8; 95% CI 3.0-39.0). History of using herbal nasal medicine was also found to be associated with nasopharyngeal carcinoma (OR = 21.9, CI = 6.8-71.4). However, exposure to a smoky atmosphere, betel-nut chewing, use of smokeless tobacco products, smoking and drinking habits were not found to be associated with nasopharyngeal carcinoma.
Conclusion: This study reveals an association of nasopharyngeal carcinoma with consumption of smoked meat in Nagaland. The use of herbal nasal medicine seems to be an additional risk factor for nasopharyngeal carcinoma in Nagaland and needs further assessment.