Carbohydrates could be as dangerous as red meat and smoking when it comes to lung cancer, according to a new study. The greatest danger appears to lie with high-glycemic carbs - those which significantly raise blood sugar, researchers found.

Lung cancer risk is particularly increased in patients who have never smoked tobacco, according to a new study. The findings were uncovered by researchers from the MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas.

High-glycemic carbs are found in many common foods, including white bread, baked potatoes and white rice.

Researchers from the MD Anderson team examined the health histories of 2,413 healthy people, and 1,905 patients diagnosed with cancer. This data was then compared to reported diets of the subjects. Investigators determined that subjects with the highest glycemic intakes were 49 percent more likely than average to develop lung cancer.

Those subjects with more than 12 years of education were found to present a lower occurrence of cancer than those with less schooling. This could reflect the socio-economic status of patients, researchers stated.

Over 158,000 Americans die each year from lung cancer. Roughly one in seven cancer cases are located in the lungs, making it the second-most common form of the disease. Tobacco smoking is the most common cause of the deadly condition.

However, smoking cannot account for all cases of lung cancer, as even non-smokers can develop the disease. Many medical researchers place the blame for these additional cases on poor diet, lacking fruits and vegetables.

Dana Reeve, wife of actor Christopher Reeve, is one celebrity who developed lung cancer despite the fact that she never smoked tobacco.

Researchers believe that the quality of carbohydrates in a person's diet is more important than quantity in maintaining health.

"The results from this study suggest that, besides maintaining healthy lifestyles, such as avoiding tobacco, limiting alcohol consumption and being physically active, reducing the consumption of foods and beverages with high glycemic index may serve as a means to lower the risk of lung cancer," said Xifeng Wu of the University of Texas.

The study was limited to non-Hispanic whites, and did not account for hypertension, heart disease or diabetes. Due to this, the determinations may not be considered conclusive.

Analysis of how high-glycemic carbs can contribute to the risk of lung cancer was profiled in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

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