Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is a rare malignancy in most parts of the world, with an incidence well under 1 per 100 000 person-years. Exceptions are the Chinese, especially the Cantonese living in the central region of Guangdong Province in Southern China. Other populations with elevated rates include the natives of Southeast Asia, the natives of the Artic region, and the Arabs of North Africa and parts of the Middle East. Intake of preserved foods at an early age has been linked to NPC risk in all population groups with increased NPC rates. Other recognized risk factors for NPC are cigarette smoking, and occupational exposure to formaldehyde and wood dust.