Eating high amounts of white bread and corn flakes may raise the risk of lung cancer, a new study has found.

More evidence suggests that food may regulate the risk of developing lung cancer. Diets rich in vegetables and fruits are said to reduce risks, while those filled with saturated fats, red meat and dairy items would cause otherwise.

In a new study from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, researchers investigated the relationship between lung cancer risk and various glucose indicators.

Measuring Glucose Levels

The researchers first looked into glycemic index (GI), which is the standard used to determine the quality of dietary carbohydrates. It is measured by identifying how rapidly blood sugar rises after a meal. The authors also looked into glycemic load (GL), which pertains to the quantity of carbohydrates.

In past studies, GI, GL and risk of developing other cancers have been investigated.

Study lead author Stephanie Melkonian says diets high in GI lead to high blood sugar and insulin, which causes disturbances in the so-called insulin-like growth factors (IGFs). Such association is noteworthy because IGFs are linked with increased lung cancer risk. However, the direct relationship of GI and lung cancer risk has not yet been clearly established.

The Study

The authors then embarked on a study to determine the association between GI, GL and risk of lung cancer.

The study involved 1,905 newly diagnosed lung cancer patients and 2,413 healthy individuals, who served as the control group.

The subjects gave self-reports of previous dietary habits and health history. The authors then determine the participants' GI based on published values. They then divided the subjects into five groups.

"We observed a 49 percent increased risk of lung cancer among subjects with the highest daily GI compared to those with the lowest daily GI," says senior author Xifeng Wu.

For GL, no significant links with lung cancer risk were established. This means that average quality, instead of quantity of carbohydrates is the one possibly modulating the cancer risk, Wu says.

Never Smokers And Low Education

Never smokers who belong to the highest GI group have more than twice the risk to develop lung cancer than those in the lowest GI group.

The risk association was also more solid in individuals with lower education levels.

Participants with less than 12 years of education in the highest GI group were 77 percent more at risk of developing lung cancer than those in the lowest GI group. For those with more than 12 years of education, the risk is only 33 percent.

The authors say that low educational status may signify low socioeconomic status, poor diet quality and smoking behavior.

What Can Be Done

The authors of the study cannot recommend a particular diet based on the study findings. However, they recommend individuals to limit food items high in GI such as white bread, corn flakes, bagels and puffed rice. Instead, opt for low GI food such as whole wheat and pasta.

Most importantly, always maintain a balanced diet, engage in regular physical activity, reduce tobacco smoking and limit alcohol consumption to lower risks of lung cancer.

The study was published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers And Prevention.

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