Investigating the health disparities in the association between lifestyle behaviors and the risk of head and neck cancer

Jenn Ren Hsiao, Cheng Chih Huang, Chun Yen Ou, Chan Chi Chang, Wei Ting Lee, Sen Tien Tsai, Jehn Shyun Huang, Ken Chung Chen, Yu Hsuan Lai, Yuan Hua Wu, Wei Ting Hsueh, Shang Yin Wu, Chia Jui Yen, Jang Yang Chang, Chen Lin Lin, Ya Ling Weng, Han Chien Yang, Yu Shan Chen, Jeffrey S. Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Many studies have reported a positive association between lower socioeconomic status (SES) and higher head and neck cancer (HNC) risk. Fewer studies have examined the impact of SES on the association between alcohol or cigarette use and HNC risk. The current case-control study (1104 HNC cases and 1363 controls) investigated the influence of education, a SES indicator, on the association between HNC and the use of alcohol, cigarettes, or betel quids in Taiwan, a country with universal health care. Our results showed a larger increase in HNC risk associated with alcohol among those with lower educational level (odds ratio [OR] = 2.07; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.53-2.80) than those with higher educational level (OR = 1.38; 95% CI, 1.04-1.85) (heterogeneity-P =.03). Educational level had an influence on the association between alcohol use and HNC risk among those with genetic susceptibility (ALDH2-deficient) to the carcinogenic effect of alcohol. The association between cigarette or betel quid use and HNC risk was similar between the high and low educational groups. National policies and social interventions have led to the decline in the prevalence of cigarette and betel quid users in Taiwan. In contrast, due to the lack of adequate alcohol control policies, alcohol consumption in Taiwan has continued to rise. A higher impact of alcohol on HNC risk among lower SES individuals even with universal health care could be the result of insufficient alcohol control policies in Taiwan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2974-2986
Number of pages13
JournalCancer Science
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Aug 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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