High-glycemic diet linked to lung cancer risk

A diet heavy on white bread and other high-glycemic index (GI) foods may increase an individual’s risk of lung cancer, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center analyzed data— including dietary habits and health history— of 1,905 participants with lung cancer and 2,413 healthy controls who were part of an ongoing lung cancer study at the center, Medical News Today reported. They found that those with the highest consumption of GI foods had a 49 percent greater risk for lung cancer and a 92 percent higher risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma of the lung— which makes up 25 to 30 percent of lung cancers.

For non-smokers, those with the highest consumption of GI foods had a 81 percent risk of developing lung cancer, compared to those in the lowest group.

Researchers noted that they were unable to determine whether subjects had diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease but believe their findings warrant further investigation.

High-GI foods include white bread, short grain white rice, melon and pineapple. Low-GI foods include sweet potato, corn, legumes and lentils. GI indicates the carbohydrate level in foods and the rate at which it will affect blood glucose levels.

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Typically, GI is used for diabetes management and prevention.

“… if the results from this study are confirmed, health care providers should be made aware of the link between glycemic index and lung cancer so they can communicate with their patients and the public about dietary changes for lung cancer prevention," study author Dr. Xifeng Wu, of the department of epidemiology at MD Anderson, said in a news release.