Background: Only a few studies have explored the relation between coffee and tea intake and head and neck cancers, with inconsistent results.
Methods: We pooled individual-level data from nine case-control studies of head and neck cancers, including 5,139 cases and 9,028 controls. Logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI), adjusting for potential confounders.
Results: Caffeinated coffee intake was inversely related with the risk of cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx: the ORs were 0.96 (95% CI, 0.94-0.98) for an increment of 1 cup per day and 0.61 (95% CI, 0.47-0.80) in drinkers of >4 cups per day versus nondrinkers. This latter estimate was consistent for different anatomic sites (OR, 0.46; 95% CI, 0.30-0.71 for oral cavity; OR, 0.58; 95% CI, 0.41-0.82 for oropharynx/hypopharynx; and OR, 0.61; 95% CI, 0.37-1.01 for oral cavity/pharynx not otherwise specified) and across strata of selected covariates. No association of caffeinated coffee drinking was found with laryngeal cancer (OR, 0.96; 95% CI, 0.64-1.45 in drinkers of >4 cups per day versus nondrinkers). Data on decaffeinated coffee were too sparse for detailed analysis, but indicated no increased risk. Tea intake was not associated with head and neck cancer risk (OR, 0.99; 95% CI, 0.89-1.11 for drinkers versus nondrinkers).
Conclusions: This pooled analysis of case-control studies supports the hypothesis of an inverse association between caffeinated coffee drinking and risk of cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx.
Impact: Given widespread use of coffee and the relatively high incidence and low survival of head and neck cancers, the observed inverse association may have appreciable public health relevance.