Adherence to the Mediterranean diet and nasopharyngeal cancer risk in Italy

Federica Turati, Francesca Bravi, Jerry Polesel, Cristina Bosetti, Eva Negri, Werner Garavello, Martina Taborelli, Diego Serraino, Massimo Libra, Maurizio Montella, Adriano Decarli, Monica Ferraroni, Carlo La Vecchia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Few 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. Methods: We 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. Results: As 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. Conclusions: Our study supports a favorable role of the Mediterranean diet on NPC risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-95
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Causes and Control
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2017


  • Case–control study
  • Mediterranean diet
  • Nasopharyngeal cancer
  • Prevention
  • Risk factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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