Background: Consumption of cured/smoked meat and fish leads to the formation of carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds in the acidic stomach. This study investigated whether consumed cured/smoked meat and fish, the major dietary resource for exposure to nitrites and nitrosamines, is associated with childhood acute leukemia.
Methods: A population-based case-control study of Han Chinese between 2 and 20 years old was conducted in southern Taiwan. 145 acute leukemia cases and 370 age- and sex-matched controls were recruited between 1997 and 2005. Dietary data were obtained from a questionnaire. Multiple logistic regression models were used in data analyses.
Results: Consumption of cured/smoked meat and fish more than once a week was associated with an increased risk of acute leukemia (OR = 1.74; 95% CI: 1.15-2.64). Conversely, higher intake of vegetables (OR = 0.55; 95% CI: 0.37-0.83) and bean-curd (OR = 0.55; 95% CI: 0.34-0.89) was associated with a reduced risk. No statistically significant association was observed between leukemia risk and the consumption of pickled vegetables, fruits, and tea.
Conclusion: Dietary exposure to cured/smoked meat and fish may be associated with leukemia risk through their contents of nitrites and nitrosamines among children and adolescents, and intake of vegetables and soy-bean curd may be protective.