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.