Dairy products, leanness, and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma

Head Neck. 2008 Sep;30(9):1193-205. doi: 10.1002/hed.20846.


Background: As part of a population-based case-control study, we investigated the association of food groups and micronutrients estimated from a validated food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) with the risk of development of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC).

Methods: Incident cases were accrued through Boston area hospitals from 1999 to 2003, and neighborhood controls were selected and matched by location, age, and sex. There were 504 cases and 717 controls enrolled, who completed the FFQ.

Results: We observed a positive association between the consumption of dairy products and HNSCC. The odds of HNSCC in the highest quintile of dairy intake was 1.64 (95% CI: 1.09-2.46), compared with subjects in the lowest quintile. There was a significant association between leanness with HNSCC. The odds of cancer among the leanest subjects was 5.8 (95%CI: 3.2-10.6) compared with a healthy BMI. Finally, intake of animal fat was positively associated with an elevation in cancer risk. The odds of HNSCC for high animal fat intake were 1.50 (0.99-2.27).

Conclusions: Our data suggest that consumption of fruits and vegetables is not universally protective for HNSCC and that other food groups and nutrients may influence the risk for developing this disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / prevention & control*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Dairy Products / statistics & numerical data*
  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Micronutrients / administration & dosage
  • Middle Aged
  • Primary Prevention / methods
  • Reference Values
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Thinness / epidemiology*


  • Micronutrients