Open Access Open Badges Research article

Risk factors for nasal malignancies in German men: the South-German Nasal cancer study

Eberhard M Greiser123*, Karin Halina Greiser4, Wolfgang Ahrens56, Rudolf Hagen7, Roland Lazszig8, Heinz Maier9, Bernhard Schick10 and Hans Peter Zenner11

Author Affiliations

1 Center for Social Policy Research, Faculty of Health Sciences, Bremen University, Bremen, Germany

2 Epi.Consult GmbH Ortsstr. 1 A, 54534, Musweiler, Germany

3 Bremen Institute for Prevention Research and Social Medicine (BIPS), Bremen University (until 3-2004), Bremen, Germany

4 German Cancer Research Center, Division of Cancer Epidemiology, Heidelberg, Germany

5 BIPS - Institute for Epidemiology and Prevention Research, Bremen, Germany

6 Institute for Statistics, Bremen University, Bremen, Germany

7 Department of Otorhinolaryngology, University of Wuerzburg, Wuerzburg, Germany

8 Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Albert-Ludwigs University Medical School, Freiburg, Germany

9 Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Bundeswehr Hospital, Ulm, Germany

10 Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Saarland University, Homburg/Saar, Germany

11 Department of Otolaryngology, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Cancer 2012, 12:506  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-506

Published: 6 November 2012



There are few studies of the effects of nasal snuff and environmental factors on the risk of nasal cancer. This study aimed to investigate the impact of using nasal snuff and of other risk factors on the risk of nasal cancer in German men.


A population-based case–control study was conducted in the German Federal States of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. Tumor registries and ear, nose and throat departments provided access to patients born in 1926 or later.


Telephone interviews were conducted with 427 cases (mean age 62.1 years) and 2.401 population-based controls (mean age 60.8 years). Ever-use of nasal snuff was associated with an odds ratio (OR) for nasal cancer of 1.45 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.88–2.38) in the total study population, whereas OR in smokers was 2.01 (95% CI 1.00-4.02) and in never smokers was 1.10 (95% CI 0.43–2.80). The OR in ever-smokers vs. never-smokers was 1.60 (95% CI 1.24–2.07), with an OR of 1.06 (95% CI 1.05–1.07) per pack-year smoked, and the risk was significantly decreased after quitting smoking. Exposure to hardwood dust for at least 1 year resulted in an OR of 2.33 (95% CI 1.40–3.91) in the total population, which was further increased in never-smokers (OR 4.89, 95% CI 1.92–12.49) in analyses stratified by smoking status. The OR for nasal cancer after exposure to organic solvents for at least 1 year was 1.53 (1.17–2.01). Ever-use of nasal sprays/nasal lavage for at least 1 month rendered an OR of 1.59 (1.04–2.44). The OR after use of insecticides in homes was 1.48 (95% CI 1.04–2.11).


Smoking and exposure to hardwood dust were confirmed as risk factors for nasal carcinoma. There is evidence that exposure to organic solvents, and in-house use of insecticides could represent novel risk factors. Exposure to asbestos and use of nasal snuff were risk factors in smokers only.

Case–control study; Nasal cancer; Smoking; Hardwood dust; Asbestos; Organic solvents; Insecticides; Nasal spray; Nasal lavage; Nasal snuff