Study links high carbohydrate diet to increased breast cancer risk

n influence carcinogenesis by causing cells to proliferate.

Insulin and an insulin-like growth factor also may contribute to higher circulating levels of biologically active estrogens, a risk factor for breast cancer in pre-menopausal women. Ninety percent of breast tumors are insulin-receptor positive and over-express the insulin-like growth factor.

The prevalence of type 2 diabetes, often associated with obesity, reflects an underlying insulin resistance in the Mexican population generally. Among urban Mexicans, nearly one-third of women between the ages of 12 and 49 are overweight. Yet when the research team took into account body mass index and other such potentially confounding factors as socioeconomic status, age at first birth, number of children, and family history of breast cancer, the relationship between carbohydrate intake and breast cancer remained the same.

Dietary fat certainly a contributor to obesity fared well in the research, showing no significant association with breast cancer risk overall. Willett noted, however, that the intake of polyunsaturated fat by the women in the study group was only about half that of the United States population.

Insoluble fiber intake was associated with lower risk of breast cancer, possibly because fiber may modulate the absorption of carbohydrates and thus affect the glycemic response.

"This study raises important questions about high carbohydrate diets, particularly among populations or individuals prone to insulin resistance. However, one study is not enough to make major changes in diet, and more work on this topic is urgently needed," Willett said.


Contact: Elizabeth J. Tait
American Association for Cancer Research

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