Tag Archives: diet

Going beyond cigarettes — starchy, sugary diet may raise risk of lung cancer


A very interesting story that really surprises me.

According to a study from the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, researchers interviewed 1,900 people who had just been diagnosed with lung cancer and compared that with 2,400 other people without cancer who were interviewed. They asked questions about lifestyle choices, including smoking, and diet.

What they found is that people with “high glycemic index ” diets (lots of sugar and starch) were more likely to be in the lung cancer group than people with low glycemic diets. The link was stronger among people who didn’t smoke, they found.

From an NBC News article:

How can this happen? Doctors aren’t sure, but there’s a theory that high-glycemic foods stimulate the body to make insulin, which in turn affects the growth of cells via compounds called insulin-like growth factors or IGF. Cancer is the uncontrolled proliferation of cells, so it might be that the high-glycemic foods are fueling the growth of tiny tumors.

“IGFs have been shown to play a critical role in regulating cell proliferation and differentiation in cancer and there is evidence to suggest that IGFs are elevated in lung cancer patients,” Wu’s team wrote.

It’s a suspect in several types of cancer.

“Previous studies have investigated the association between glycemic index, and the related measure glycemic load, and a variety of cancers including colorectal, stomach, pancreas, endometrial, ovarian, prostate, and thyroid but these studies are limited and results have been largely inconclusive,” the researchers wrote.

This study is not conclusive, either. For one thing, the researchers asked their volunteers to remember what they ate. For another, it’s an association. People who eat high-glycemic foods may also do something else that also raises their risk of cancer. And this particular study focused only on non-Hispanic white people.

It’s important to keep in mind that about 15 percent of the people who get lung cancer are people who never smoked, and about 20 percent of women who get lung cancer never smoked. Secondhand smoke might be a factor, but so is genetics likely and possibly diet, according to this survey.

I don’t really know what low glycemic versus high glycemic entails, so here is a list included in the article:

According to the American Diabetes Association, low-glycemic foods include:

  • 100 percent stone-ground whole wheat or pumpernickel bread
  • Oatmeal (rolled or steel-cut), oat bran, muesli
  • Pasta, converted rice, barley, bulgar
  • Sweet potato, corn, yam, lima/butter beans, peas, legumes and lentils
  • Most fruits, non-starchy vegetables and carrots

Medium glycemic index foods include:

  • Whole wheat, rye and pita bread
  • Quick oats
  • Brown, wild or basmati rice, couscous

High glycemic index foods include:

  • White bread, including bagels

  • Corn flakes, puffed rice, bran flakes, instant oatmeal

  • Shortgrain white rice, rice pasta, macaroni and cheese from mix

  • Russet potato, pumpkin

  • Pretzels, rice cakes, popcorn, saltine crackers

  • melons and pineapple

Oh, good, I do like baked potatoes, so that’s the only high glycemic food I each much of on this list.