Study Links Processed Carb Intake to 88% Higher Prostate Cancer Risk

In addition to mitigating the risk for weight gain and other health issues, eliminating sugary drinks and processed foods may also diminish one’s risk of cancer, according to new research presented at the American Society for Nutrition Scientific Sessions and Annual Meeting during Experimental Biology 2016, held April 2-6 in San Diego, California.

A team led by Nour Makarem, a PhD student at New York University, analyzed health data of 3100 volunteers dating to the 1970s. The group began tracking participants’ diets in 1991, and the volunteers also provided dietary information via detailed food frequency questionnaires. Makarem and colleagues categorized participants’ food sources by glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL), and searched for correlations between carbohydrate intake and cancer rates, adjusting for additional cancer risk factors.

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The team found significant connections between the consumption of highly processed carbohydrates and prostate cancer, with regular consumption of foods with a higher GL linked to an 88% higher prostate cancer risk. Consumption of low-GI foods such as legumes, nonstarchy vegetables, fruits and whole grains correlated to a 67% lower prevalence of breast cancer, according to the authors.

The findings indicate that clinicians “should recommend that individuals consume a dietary pattern that emphasizes healthier, low-GI carbohydrate-containing foods,” which include most fruits and non-starchy vegetables as well as milk and dairy and whole grain products, Makarem said, adding that sugary beverages and energy-dense, nutrient-poor carbohydrate-containing foods should be limited, as well.

“We found strong associations between junk foods and total and types of sugary beverages in relation to prostate cancer,” continued Makarem. “Eliminating these foods and beverages from the diet is a simple dietary modification that can significantly reduce prostate cancer risk, the most common non-skin cancer among men.”

—Mark McGraw

Makarem N, Lin Y, Bandera EV, Jacques P, Parekh N. Dietary carbohydrate intake, glycemic index and glycemic load in relation to adiposity-related cancer risk: results from the Framingham Offspring Cohort (1991-2013). Presented at Experimental Biology 2016, April 2-6, 2016; San Diego, CA.