The incidence rates of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) are dramatically higher in certain regions of Asia compared to the rest of the world. Few risk factors for NPC are known; however, in contrast to the hypothesized health benefits of nonpreserved vegetables, it is thought that preserved vegetable intake may play a role in contributing to the higher incidence of NPC in high-risk regions. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to systematically review the epidemiologic evidence on the associations between adulthood intake of preserved and nonpreserved vegetables and NPC risk. A search of the epidemiological literature from 1966 to 2004 was performed using several bibliographic databases, including PubMed and the Chinese Biomedical Literature Database System. There were no language restrictions. Meta-analysis was conducted to obtain pooled odds ratios (ORs) for the highest-versus-lowest categories of preserved and nonpreserved vegetable intake. A total of 16 case-control studies were identified in the search. Results showed that highest-versus-lowest preserved vegetable intake was associated with a 2-fold increase in the risk of NPC (Random Effects Odds Ratio (RE OR) 2.04; 95% Confidence Limits (CL) 1.43, 2.92). Conversely, high nonpreserved vegetable intake was associated with 36% decrease in the risk of NPC (RE OR 0.64; 95% CL 0.48, 0.85). Findings for both preserved and nonpreserved vegetables were consistent across vegetable type and by country of study. Further research in high-risk areas to gain insight into the risk associated with preserved vegetables and protection associated with nonpreserved vegetables may advance understanding of NPC and yield clues for prevention.
Copyright 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.