Socioeconomic factors associated with risk of upper aerodigestive tract cancer in Europe

D. I. Conway, P. A. McKinney, A. D. McMahon, W. Ahrens, N. Schmeisser, S. Benhamou, C. Bouchardy, G. J. Macfarlane, T. V. Macfarlane, P. Lagiou, P. Minaki, V. Bencko, I. Holcátová, F. Merletti, L. Richiardi, K. Kjaerheim, A. Agudo, X. Castellsague, R. Talamini, L. BarzanC. Canova, L. Simonato, R. J. Lowry, A. Znaor, C. M. Healy, B. E. McCartan, M. Marron, M. Hashibe, P. Brennan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: In the European Union, there are 180,000 new cases of upper aerodigestive tract (UADT) cancer cases per year - more than half of whom will die of the disease. Socioeconomic inequalities in UADT cancer incidence are recognised across Europe. We aimed to assess the components of socioeconomic risk both independently and through their influence on the known behavioural risk factors of smoking, alcohol consumption and diet. Patients and methods: A multicentre case-control study with 2198 cases of UADT cancer and 2141 controls from hospital and population sources was undertaken involving 14 centres from 10 countries. Personal interviews collected information on demographics, lifetime occupation history, smoking, alcohol consumption and diet. Socioeconomic status was measured by education, occupational social class and unemployment. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were computed using unconditional logistic regression. Results: When controlling for age, sex and centre significantly increased risks for UADT cancer were observed for those with low versus high educational attainment OR = 1.98 (95% CI 1.67, 2.36). Similarly, for occupational socioeconomic indicators - comparing the lowest versus highest International Socio-Economic Index (ISEI) quartile for the longest occupation gave OR = 1.60 (1.28, 2.00); and for unemployment OR = 1.64 (1.24, 2.17). Statistical significance remained for low education when adjusting for smoking, alcohol and diet behaviours OR = 1.29 (1.06, 1.57) in the multivariate analysis. Inequalities were observed only among men but not among women and were greater among those in the British Isles and Eastern European countries than in Southern and Central/Northern European countries. Associations were broadly consistent for subsite and source of controls (hospital and community). Conclusion: Socioeconomic inequalities for UADT cancers are only observed among men and are not totally explained by smoking, alcohol drinking and diet.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)588-598
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010


  • Alcohol consumption
  • Case-control study
  • Educational status
  • Socioeconomic
  • Tobacco smoking
  • Upper aerodigestive tract cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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