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Coffee & Health

Tea and coffee consumption and risk of oral cavity cancer: results of a large population-based case-control study, the ICARE study

L Radoi et al, 2013
Cancer Epidemiology, published online ahead of print
March 10, 2013


Results on the relationship between coffee and tea drinking and the risk of oral cavity cancer are contrasted. The aim of this study was to evaluate the relation between coffee and tea drinking and the risk of oral cavity cancer in France, a high incidence area.

Material and methods:

We conducted a population based case–control study with face-to-face interviews and standardized questionnaires (the ICARE study, Investigation of occupational and environmental causes of respiratory cancers). We used data from 689 cases of oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma and 3481 controls. Odds-ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) associated with tea and coffee consumption (quantity, duration, cumulative consumption) were estimated by unconditional logistic regression with adjustment for age, gender, area of residence, education, body mass index, tobacco smoking and alcohol drinking. Results: We observed inverse associations between oral cavity cancer and tea or coffee consumption (odds ratio, 0.39; 95% CI 0.21–0.70, for the highest quartile of tea consumption, and 0.60, 95% CI 0.34– 1.05, for the highest quartile of coffee consumption). Exclusive tea or coffee consumption was associated with a reduced risk of oral cavity cancer and their joint effect was multiplicative. No differences in risk between men and women or between consumers of tobacco and alcohol and non-consumers were observed. The odds ratios related to the subsites usually included in the oropharynx (soft palate and base of the tongue) did not differ significantly from that observed for the other subsites of the oral cavity.


Tea and coffee drinking may decrease the risk of oral cavity cancer through antioxidant components which play a role in the repair of cellular damages. These findings need further investigation in prospective studies and the underlying mechanisms in humans remain to be clarified.

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