BACKGROUND: Salivary gland cancer (SGC) is a rare disease with a largely unknown origin. Because cancer of the tongue and mouth floor is caused primarily by smoking and alcohol consumption, we investigated the role of tobacco, alcohol, and other possible risk factors in the development of SGC in a hospital-based study. METHODS: Interviews were obtained from 128 patients with newly diagnosed histologically confirmed SGC and from 114 age- and gender-matched controls by using a structured questionnaire. All patients were interviewed at bedside by a trained interviewer. RESULTS: No differences in levels of education were found between the two groups. Cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption did not independently or jointly increase the risk of SGC. Chewing tobacco and snuff use were also unrelated factors. The odds ratio for low body mass in men was 0.46 (p = 0.05). There was no relation with body mass in women. An examination of employment history and job-related exposures revealed no occupational risk factors. CONCLUSION: These findings show that smoking, alcohol consumption, and most occupational exposures are unrelated to SGC.
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