There are substantial variations in incidence and mortality from oral and pharyngeal cancer in Europe, with systematic tendencies towards increasing rates in most European countries, particularly in younger males. Most of the geographical differences are due to tobacco and alcohol consumption, which explain over three quarters of approximately 20 000 deaths from oral cancer registered every year in Europe, excluding the former Soviet Union. Nonetheless, dietary factors have an established and quantifiable role in oral carcinogenesis in Europe. Two studies showed a significant protective effect by vegetables and fresh fruit, which appeared particularly strong and consistent for fruit, but were not explained by measures of intake of beta-carotene or other micro-nutrients. Although it is not clear whether the observed associations simply reflected a generally poorer nutritional status of oral cancer cases, they open interesting perspectives for aetiological research and prevention, since about one in six oral cancers in European populations can be attributed to dietary deficiencies or imbalances.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research