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Adherence to the Mediterranean diet and nasopharyngeal cancer risk in Italy

  • Turati, Federica1
  • Bravi, Francesca1, 2
  • Polesel, Jerry3
  • Bosetti, Cristina2
  • Negri, Eva2
  • Garavello, Werner4
  • Taborelli, Martina3
  • Serraino, Diego3
  • Libra, Massimo5
  • Montella, Maurizio6
  • Decarli, Adriano1, 7
  • Ferraroni, Monica1
  • La Vecchia, Carlo1
  • 1 Università degli Studi di Milano, Department of Clinical Sciences and Community Health, Via A. Vanzetti 5, Milan, 20133, Italy , Milan (Italy)
  • 2 IRCCS-Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche “Mario Negri”, Department of Epidemiology, via G. La Masa 19, Milan, 20156, Italy , Milan (Italy)
  • 3 CRO Aviano National Cancer Institute, Unit of Cancer Epidemiology, via F. Gallini 2, Aviano, 33081, Italy , Aviano (Italy)
  • 4 Università di Milano-Bicocca, Department of Otorhinolaryngology, School of Medicine and Surgery, via Cadore 48, Monza, 20900, Italy , Monza (Italy)
  • 5 Università di Catania, Laboratory of Translational Oncology & Functional Genomics, Department of Biomedical and Biotechnological Sciences, Via Androne 83, Catania, 95124, Italy , Catania (Italy)
  • 6 Istituto Tumori “Fondazione Pascale IRCCS”, Unit of Epidemiology, Via M. Semmola 1, Naples, 80131, Italy , Naples (Italy)
  • 7 Fondazione IRCSS Istituto Nazionale Tumori di Milano, Unit of Medical Statistics, Biometry and Bioinformatics, via G. Venezian 1, Milan, 20133, Italy , Milan (Italy)
Published Article
Cancer Causes & Control
Publication Date
Feb 02, 2017
DOI: 10.1007/s10552-017-0850-x
Springer Nature


PurposeFew studies investigated the role of diet on nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC) risk in non-endemic areas. The aim of this study was to assess the association between adherence to the traditional Mediterranean diet and NPC risk in a southern European low-risk population.MethodsWe conducted a hospital-based case-control study in Italy, including 198 histologically confirmed NPC cases and 594 matched controls. Dietary habits were collected by means of a validated food-frequency questionnaire, including 83 foods, food groups, or beverages. Adherence to the traditional Mediterranean diet was assessed through a Mediterranean Diet Score (MDS), based on nine dietary components characterizing this dietary profile, i.e., high intake of vegetables, fruits and nuts, cereals, legumes, and fish; low intake of dairy products and meat; high monounsaturated to saturated fatty acid ratio; and moderate alcohol intake. We estimated odds ratios (ORs) of NPC, and the corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs), for increasing MDS (i.e., increasing adherence) using multiple logistic regression models, adjusted for major confounding factors.ResultsAs compared to MDS ≤ 4, the ORs of NPC were 0.83 (95% CI: 0.54–1.25) for MDS of 5 and 0.66 (95% CI: 0.44–0.99) for MDS ≥ 6, with a significant trend of decreasing risk (p 0.043). The corresponding population attributable fraction was 22%, indicating that 22% of NPC cases in this population would be avoided by shifting all subjects to a score ≥6.ConclusionsOur study supports a favorable role of the Mediterranean diet on NPC risk.

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