The glycemic index (GI) is the measure of the amount of carbohydrate in different foods and how quickly the food is likely to affect blood glucose levels. The glycemic index finds common use in the prevention and management of diabetes.
The glycemic load, abbreviated GL, is a measure closely linked to the glycemic index. It uses the GI value of a food to calculate the amount of carbohydrate in a serving of food and how fast the food consumed will raise blood glucose levels.
The foods with a high GI value increase blood glucose by a greater margin than the moderate or low GI foods. The examples of low GI foods are corn, legumes, sweet potato and lentils. On the other hand, the high GI foods are melon, white rice, white bread, pineapple and short grain.
A number of previous studies have investigated how the GI of foods is linked to the onset of some types of cancer such as pancreatic, colorectal and stomach cancer. However, little is known about the link between the GI of foods and lung cancer.
The study by the team of researchers sought to investigate if the link between the GI of foods and lung cancer. They analyzed the data of 1,905 participants with lung cancer and a further 2,413 healthy controls. The participants were also asked to share their health history and dietary behaviors.
Their findings were that compared to the study participants in the lowest quintile of GI, the participants in the highest quintile had a 49% greater risk for lung cancer characterized by a 92% higher risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma of the lung. The squamous cell carcinoma of the lung accounts for around 25-30% of lung cancers. The researchers did not find a link between high GI diets and the risk of adenocarcinomas which account for about 40 percent of lung cancer cases.
Education played a role whereby the participants in the highest GI quintile who had less than 12 years of education had a 55 percent greater risk of developing lung cancer than those in the lowest quintile.
Among the study subjects who had never smoked, the researchers found that those in the highest GI quintile were twice more likely to develop lung cancer when compared to those in the lowest quintile.
A senior study author Dr. Xifeng Wu, of the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, says that even though smoking was a major risk factor for lung cancer, it did not account for all the variations in lung cancer risk.
The study suggests that the link between high GI diet and lung cancer risk can be due to the higher levels of blood glucose and insulin which may lead to an increase in the likelihood of glucose intolerance and insulin resistance.
The study adds to the body of evidence that diet will independently or in close association with other risks lead to onset of lung cancer. The study therefore suggests that individuals should in addition to adhering to a healthy lifestyle; minimize the consumption of food and drinks with a high glycemic index.
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