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Smoking Strongly Linked to Head and Neck Cancer

Risk disproportionately greater in women who smoke

MONDAY, Aug. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Cigarette smoking is a strong risk factor for head and neck cancer in both men and women, but it appears to disproportionately increase the risk of cancer in women, according to a report published online Aug. 27 in Cancer.

Neal Freedman, Ph.D., of the National Cancer Institute in Rockville, Md., and colleagues investigated the association between head and neck cancers and cigarette smoking in 476,211 individuals participating in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health study.

Over the five-year follow-up period, 584 men and 175 women were diagnosed with head and neck cancer. Overall, the incidence of head and neck cancer was higher in men, but the hazard ratio associated with smoking was greater in women than in men (12.96 versus 5.45, respectively). Previous and current cigarette smoking was associated with 75 percent of head and neck cancers in women and 45 percent in men.

"Our results suggest that smoking is a strong risk factor for head and neck cancer in both sexes and public health interventions should continue to focus on reducing smoking use by all," the authors conclude.

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