Study Links Carbohydrates to Colorectal and Endometrial Cancer

A study published in the June issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition warns that high consumption high glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) foods are associated with increased risk of colorectal and endometrial cancers. Patrizia Gnagnarella, from the European Institute of Oncology in Milan, Italy, and colleagues write, "The overall GI reflects the average quality of carbohydrates consumed, whereas the total dietary GL reflects both the average quantity and quality of carbohydrates." The risk of endometrial and colorectal cancer was compared to that of pancreatic and breast cancer from a pooled analysis of studies published prior to October 2007. When comparing the two, the chances of developing endometrial and colorectal cancer was increased.

Past studies have also shown an association between high insulin concentrations and other forms of cancer. The current study showed only a "modest" increase in cancer risk.

According to the authors, "The magnitude of the risk for subjects categorized into the highest versus lowest quantile of GL or GI intake is modest, however, and it varies according to study populations." Most of the 39 studies were conducted in European countries, where consumption of bread and pasta is highest.

You can lower your glycemic load by eating less bread, white rice and potatoes. Sugary foods, such as soft drinks and baked goods produce a surge of insulin, causing concentrations to rise rapidly. Eat plenty of whole grains, non-starchy vegetables, nuts and fruits to keep your glycemic index manageable.

Several studies link diets that are high in glycemic index and glycemic load to the development of cancer. Any proven insight into cancer prevention should be viewed as personal empowerment, even if the risk is defined as only modest. Playing the lottery with your health is a definite unrecompensed activity.

Source: Am J Clin Nutr. 2008;87:1793-1801.

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