Starchy, High Carbohydrate Diet Associated With Recurrence of Colon Cancer
12th November 2012
Colon cancer survivors whose diet is heavy in complex sugars and carbohydrate-rich foods are far more likely to have a recurrence of the disease than are patients who eat a better balance of foods, a new study by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute researchers indicates.
More than 1,000 patients with advanced (stage III) colon cancer participated in the study, one of the first to examine how diet can affect the chances that the disease will recur. Researchers tracked the patients’ total carbohydrates, as well as their glycemic index (a measure of how quickly blood sugar levels rise after eating a particular food), and glycemic load (which takes into account the amount of a carbohydrate actually consumed), and looked for a statistical connection between these measures and the recurrence of colon cancer. They found that participants with the highest dietary levels of glycemic load and carbohydrate intake had an 80 percent increased risk of colon cancer recurrence or death compared with those who had the lowest levels. Among patients who were overweight or obese (had a body mass index above 25 kg/m2), the increase was even greater.
The study findings are in line with other recent studies that have shown that colorectal cancer survivors whose diet and activity patterns lead to excess amounts of insulin in the blood have a higher risk of cancer recurrence and death from the disease. High insulin levels can be produced by eating too many starchy and sugar-laden foods.
The study authors theorised that factors including a high glycemic load may stimulate the body’s production of insulin, which may increase the proliferation of cells and prevent the natural cell-death process in cancer cells that have metastasized from their original site. While the study doesn’t prove that diets high in glycemic load and carbohydrate intake cause recurrence of colon cancer, the results strongly suggest that such dietary factors play a role and the findings may offer useful guidance for patients and physicians in ways of improving patient survival after treatment.
Meyerhardt J A et al. Dietary Glycemic Load and Cancer Recurrence and Survival in Patients with Stage III Colon Cancer: Findings From CALGB 89803. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 104(22): 1702-1711. Epub 2012 Nov 7.
Categories: Nutritional News