Background: The aim of our work was to identify risk factors specific to populations in our region for primary prevention of risk behaviors, particularly eating habits.
Methods: We conducted a case-control study on dietary factors of nasopharyngeal carcinoma in the Setif area in Algeria. The study included 72 cases and 72 controls matched for age, sex and area of residence. The variables analyzed were identified by an anthropological study.
Results: Increased risk of disease was associated with consumption of traditionally preserved foods such as "harissa", pickled fruit and vegetables and dried and salted meat. These factors were commonly found in other endemic areas. Certain products appeared to be specific to the Setif area including dried and salted fat, especially after prolonged exposure. Rancid butter was related to a 4 to 7-fold increase in risk and use of pickling increased the risk of nasopharyngeal carcinoma 4 to 12-fold depending on the type of food.
Conclusions: These data point to the need for biochemical analysis of food specimens to search for the carcinogenic agents and to the importance of an immediate information and education program on food habits for the populations living in this area.