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The Association between Diet Quality and Cancer Incidence of the Head and Neck


Saraiya, Veeral; Bradshaw, Patrick T.; Meyer, Katie A.; Gammon, Marilie D.; Slade, Gary D.; Brennan, Paul; Abedi-Ardekani, Behnoush; & Olshan, Andrew F. (2020). The Association between Diet Quality and Cancer Incidence of the Head and Neck. Cancer Causes & Control, 31(2), 193-202.


The association between diet quality and head and neck cancer (HNC) was explored using a population-based case-control study of 1170 HNC cases and 1303 age-, race-, and sex-matched controls from the United States. Diet quality was assessed with three diet quality scores (DQS): (a) Healthy Eating Index 2005 (HEI-2005), (b) Mediterranean Diet Score (MDS), and (c) HNC-specific Mediterranean Diet Score (MDS-HNC), a modified MDS that we developed to be more applicable to HNC. Logistic regression models estimated adjusted odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) representing diet quality-incident HNC associations. We examined effect measure modification (EMM) by body mass index (BMI), race, cigarette smoking, and alcohol consumption and associational heterogeneity by HPV-positivity and tumor site. A one standard deviation summary DQS decrement suggested a consistent inverse association (ORs (CIs)) for the HEI-2005, MDS, and MDS-HNC: 1.35 (1.21, 1.50), 1.13 (1.02, 1.25), and 1.17 (1.06, 1.31), respectively. This association did not vary by tumor site or tumor HPV status, though additive EMM by alcohol use and by BMI was observed. Our findings suggest the Mediterranean diet can be used to study HNC in American populations, and that poor diet quality elevates HNC incidence, particularly among alcohol users.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Article Type


Year Published


Journal Title

Cancer Causes & Control


Saraiya, Veeral
Bradshaw, Patrick T.
Meyer, Katie A.
Gammon, Marilie D.
Slade, Gary D.
Brennan, Paul
Abedi-Ardekani, Behnoush
Olshan, Andrew F.

Data Set/Study

The Carolina Head and Neck Cancer Epidemiology (CHANCE) Study


United States of America