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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Cured meat, vegetables, and bean-curd foods in relation to childhood acute leukemia risk: A population based case-control study

Chen-yu Liu1, Yi-Hsiang Hsu23, Ming-Tsang Wu45, Pi-Chen Pan6, Chi-Kung Ho7, Li Su1, Xin Xu1, Yi Li89, David C Christiani110* and the Kaohsiung Leukemia Research Group

Author Affiliations

1 Environmental and Occupational Medicine and Epidemiology Program, Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA

2 Institute for Aging Research, Hebrew Rehabilitation Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

3 Molecular and Integrative Physiological Sciences Program, Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA

4 Department of Family Medicine and Graduate Institute of Occupational Safety & Health, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

5 Center of Excellence for Environmental Medicine, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

6 Department of Nursing, Yuh-Ing Junior College of Health Care and Management, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

7 School of Public Health, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

8 Department of Biostatistics and Computational Biology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA, USA

9 Department of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA

10 Pulmonary and Critical Care Unit, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

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BMC Cancer 2009, 9:15  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-15

Published: 13 January 2009

Abstract

Background

Consumption of cured/smoked meat and fish leads to the formation of carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds in the acidic stomach. This study investigated whether consumed cured/smoked meat and fish, the major dietary resource for exposure to nitrites and nitrosamines, is associated with childhood acute leukemia.

Methods

A population-based case-control study of Han Chinese between 2 and 20 years old was conducted in southern Taiwan. 145 acute leukemia cases and 370 age- and sex-matched controls were recruited between 1997 and 2005. Dietary data were obtained from a questionnaire. Multiple logistic regression models were used in data analyses.

Results

Consumption of cured/smoked meat and fish more than once a week was associated with an increased risk of acute leukemia (OR = 1.74; 95% CI: 1.15–2.64). Conversely, higher intake of vegetables (OR = 0.55; 95% CI: 0.37–0.83) and bean-curd (OR = 0.55; 95% CI: 0.34–0.89) was associated with a reduced risk. No statistically significant association was observed between leukemia risk and the consumption of pickled vegetables, fruits, and tea.

Conclusion

Dietary exposure to cured/smoked meat and fish may be associated with leukemia risk through their contents of nitrites and nitrosamines among children and adolescents, and intake of vegetables and soy-bean curd may be protective.