Some bad news for those who love their carbs. A new study that was published in this month’s edition of the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention publication, has revealed that consuming large amounts of carbs can increase your risk of lung cancer … even as a non-smoker. It’s important to note, the carbs that seem to enhance these chances are the ones with increased glycemic index (the types that can raise blood sugar levels). Foods with high glycemic index include: white rice, white bread, and russet potatoes. Alternatively, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, and say pasta (that are low in glycemic index), are not included in this category.
The study team gathered approximately 2,000 individuals living in and around Houston, who had recently been diagnosed with disease to see the foods they typically consumed within the last year. They then compared these answers with approximately 2,400 individuals who had a clean bill of health. Other areas the research team looked at was smoking, and alcohol consumption.
The results showed those who reported diets with high glycemic index consumption were about 49% likelier to contract lung cancer than then their counterparts who didn’t eat high levels of these types of foods. Those who reported a diet with less of these types of foods remained at the bottom 20th percentile of diagnosis. The connection between high glycemic index foods and the disease were especially high for those who had never been smokers, or smoked less than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime. It seems that those who had never smoked, yet consumed these foods regularly, had over twice as much of a chance to develop lung cancer; however, the risk for smokers only rose by 31 percent.
As lead researcher, Xifeng Wu, professor, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center notes, as the risk of lung cancer enhances for those who never have smoked, the results really point to glycemic index as a huge risk factor when it comes to diet. Alternatively, for those who do smoke, the bad habit seems like the bigger factor when it comes to risk of lung cancer, therefore for these individuals, smoking seems to have a larger impact than what they eat.
CNN reports that other past studies have connected dairy products and red meat with enhanced risks to lung cancer, while fruits and vegetables have been linked to lower risks for the disease.
While researchers are puzzled as to why there is a connection to high glycemic index foods and the risk of lung cancer, there is belief that it may be due to the fact that these foods cause blood sugar to react and encourage the emission of insulin. It’s possible that insulin then increases the messages sent to cells, to increase production, which would include cancerous cells as well.
This is not the first study to link high glycemic index foods with cancer. Previous research has revealed that foods of this type may also increase the risk of colorectal, thyroid, as well as ovarian cancers.