Risk factorsBy Mayo Clinic staff
Researchers have identified some factors that appear to increase your risk of developing nasopharyngeal carcinoma, including:
- Sex. Nasopharyngeal carcinoma is more common in men than it is in women.
- Race. This type of cancer more commonly affects people in Asia and northern Africa. In the United States, Asian immigrants have a higher risk of this type of cancer than do American-born Asians. Inuits in Alaska also have an increased risk of nasopharyngeal cancer.
- Age. Nasopharyngeal cancer can occur at any age, but it's most commonly diagnosed in adults between the ages of 30 and 50.
- Salt-cured foods. Chemicals released in steam when cooking salt-cured foods, such as fish and preserved vegetables, may enter the nasal cavity, increasing the risk of nasopharyngeal carcinoma. Being exposed to these chemicals at an early age may increase the risk even more.
- Epstein-Barr virus. This common virus usually produces mild signs and symptoms, such as those of a cold. Sometimes it can cause infectious mononucleosis. Epstein-Barr virus is also linked to several rare cancers, including nasopharyngeal carcinoma.
- Family history. Having a family member with nasopharyngeal carcinoma increases your risk of the disease.
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