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21-04-2013 | Oncology | Article

Tea and coffee may protect against oral cancer


Free abstract

medwireNews: Consumption of tea and coffee is inversely correlated with the risk for cancer of the oral cavity, a large population-based study suggests.

The association might be mediated by the antioxidant properties of the drinks, say the researchers, who call for their findings to be investigated further in prospective studies.

Daniele Luce (Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health, Villejuif, France) and team analyzed data from the ICARE (Investigation of occupational and environmental causes of respiratory cancers) study. This was a large multicenter population-based case-control study into lung and upper aerodigestive tract cancers carried out from 2001 to 2007 in 10 regions of France.

The present analysis included a subset of 689 patients (cases) with squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity and 3481 healthy individuals (controls) matched for age, gender, and area.

Around 95% of patients and controls reported drinking coffee whereas only 22% of cases and 38% of controls were tea drinkers, Luce et al report in Cancer Epidemiology.

When the participants were stratified by lifetime cumulative consumption of coffee, those in the highest quartile (>186 cup-years) had a significantly lower risk for oral cavity cancer than those who had never drunk coffee, at an adjusted odds ratio of 0.60.

Similarly, people in the highest quartile of lifetime cumulative tea consumption (>42 cup-years) had a significantly lower risk for oral cavity cancer, at an adjusted odds ratio of 0.39.

Furthermore, consumption of tea and coffee had a multiplicative effect on cancer risk. Compared with people who never drank either tea or coffee, those who drank tea only had a 84% lower risk, those who drank coffee only had a 57% lower risk, and those who drank both tea and coffee had a 66% lower risk for oral cavity cancer.

In subgroup analysis, these associations did not differ between men and women, between consumers of tobacco and alcohol and nonconsumers, or according to anatomic subsites.

Luce et al conclude: "This study supports the hypothesis of an inverse association between coffee and tea consumption and the risk of oral cavity cancer. These findings need further investigation in prospective studies and the underlying mechanisms in humans remain to be clarified."

medwireNews ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2013

By Joanna Lyford, Senior medwireNews Reporter

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