Two hundred fifty incident cases of nasopharyngeal carcinoma under age 35 years in Hong Kong Chinese and an equal number of age- and sex-matched friend controls were interviewed. Mothers of cases and controls were interviewed also, if available, to obtain information on childhood events concerning the study subjects. Consumption of Cantonese-style salted fish during all time periods was significantly associated with nasopharyngeal carcinoma; the association was especially strong during childhood. The relative risk for having Cantonese-style salted fish as one of the first solid foods during weaning was 7.5 (95% confidence limits, 3.9, 14.8), and the relative risk for consuming the food at least once a week compared to less than once a month at age 10 years was 37.7 (95% confidence limits, 14.1, 100.4). It is estimated that over 90% of young nasopharyngeal carcinoma cases in Hong Kong Chinese can be attributed to consumption of this food during childhood.
Supported in part by Grants CA00884 from the National Cancer Institute and SIG-2 from the American Cancer Society, donations from Mr. Wong Hoo Chuen of Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong Anti-Cancer Society.