Dietary intakes of carotenoids and other nutrients in the risk of nasopharyngeal carcinoma: a case-control study in Italy

Br J Cancer. 2012 Oct 23;107(9):1580-3. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2012.413. Epub 2012 Sep 11.


Background: Dietary habits have been related to the risk of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC), but information on a wide range of macro- and micronutrients is still lacking, particularly for low-incidence countries.

Methods: We conducted a hospital-based case-control study in Italy on 198, histologically confirmed, NPC cases of Caucasian ethnicity of 18-76 years of age. Controls were 594 Caucasian cancer-free patients admitted to general hospitals for acute conditions. Nutrients intake was assessed through a validated food-frequency questionnaire. Adjusted odds ratios (ORs) and the corresponding confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated through logistic regression.

Results: Dietary intake of carotenoids were inversely related to NPC risk, notably carotene (OR for highest vs lowest quartile=0.46; 95% CI: 0.26-0.79), α-carotene (OR=0.57; 95% CI: 0.33-0.97), and β-carotene (OR=0.42; 95% CI: 0.24-0.75). Increased NPC risk was observed for elevate cholesterol intake (OR=1.85; 95% CI: 1.12-3.05).

Conclusion: Study findings suggest a protective effect of carotenoids against NPC in a low-risk population, adding further support to a possible beneficial role of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables in cancers of the head and neck.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma
  • Carotenoids / administration & dosage*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Micronutrients / administration & dosage
  • Middle Aged
  • Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / etiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Micronutrients
  • Carotenoids