Most studies reporting an inverse association between the consumption of vegetables and fruits and head and neck cancer (HNC) risk were conducted in Western populations and only a few included East Asians. The current case-control study investigated the association between diet and HNC risk using data of 838 HNC cases and 998 controls from a case-control study of HNC conducted in Taiwan. Each participant was asked about their consumption of fresh vegetables, pickled vegetables, fresh fruits, citrus fruits, meat, processed meat, fish, egg, and dairy products. Unconditional logistic regression was performed to estimate the odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) of HNC risk associated with each food category, adjusted for sex, age, education, and use of alcohol, betel quid and cigarette. An inverse association was observed between HNC risk and daily intake of fresh vegetables (OR = 0.44, 95% CI: 0.20-0.95, p-trend = 0.002) or fruits (OR = 0.55, 95% CI: 0.43-0.72, p-trend = 0.00001). Individuals who did not consume fresh fruits and vegetables daily had more than double the risk of HNC compared to those with daily intake of vegetables and fruits (OR= 2.24, 95% CI: 1.54-3.25). The results of the current study supported an inverse association between the consumption of fresh vegetables and fruits and HNC risk. In addition to cessation of cigarette smoking and betel quid chewing and reduction of alcohol drinking, a public health campaign for preventing the occurrence of HNC should promote a healthy diet that contains plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits.
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