Dietary risk factors for nasopharyngeal carcinoma in Maghrebian countries

Int J Cancer. 2007 Oct 1;121(7):1550-5. doi: 10.1002/ijc.22813.


North Africa is one of the major Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma (NPC) endemic regions. Specific food items unique to this area were implicated to be associated with NPC risk, but results were inconsistent. Here we have performed a large-scale case-control study in the Maghrebian population from Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. From 2002 to 2005, interviews were conducted on 636 cases and 615 controls. Controls were hospitalized individuals from 15 non-cancer hospital departments, or friends and family members of non-NPC cancer subjects, matched by center, childhood household type (rural or urban), age and sex. Conditional logistic regression is used to evaluate the risk of factors. In results, consumption of rancid butter, rancid sheep fat and preserved meat not spicy (mainly quaddid) were associated with significantly increased risk of NPC, while consumption of cooked vegetables and industrial preserved fish was associated with reduced risk. Other foods such as fresh citrus fruits and spicy preserved meat (mainly osban) in childhood, industrial made olive condiments in adulthood, were marginally associated. In multivariate analyses, only rancid butter, rancid sheep fat and cooked vegetables were significantly associated with NPC. In regard to possible causative substances, our results implicate the involvement of butyric acid, a potential Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) activator.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Algeria
  • Animals
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Diet / adverse effects*
  • Dietary Fats / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Fish Products / adverse effects
  • Food Preservation
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Meat Products / adverse effects
  • Middle Aged
  • Morocco
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data
  • Sheep
  • Tunisia
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data


  • Dietary Fats