Many years ago one of my clients brought me an article that discussed how carbohydrate intake is related to cancer. This article peaked my interest and since that time I have followed research linking carbohydrates to incidence of cancer.
Research over the last few years has consistently linked high insulin levels to development of certain types of cancers and cancer reoccurrence. A high glycemic carbohydrate diet can increase production of insulin, which in turn can increase cell growth of tumors in the body. When insulin levels are high, tumor cells can get the food they need to divide and multiply.
What about pancreatic cancer?
A group of researchers examined the records of 89,000 women participating in the Nurses’ Health study in 2002. They found that women of normal weight who ate large amounts of refined starches, such as white bread and potatoes, slightly increased their risk of pancreatic cancer. Women who were overweight, did not get a lot of exercise, and ate a lot of starchy foods were 2.5 times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than if they ate other types of healthy carbohydrates.
One of the co-authors of the study, Charles S. Fuchs, discussed how replacing starchy foods that increase insulin levels with healthy carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables can improve your health by not only lowering risk of cancer, but diabetes and cardiovascular disease as well.
What does this study show us? Although cancer does exist for multiple reasons one possible cause is consuming refined starchy carbs. Continually eating these types of foods makes the pancreas work harder to produce more insulin. Besides increasing storage of fat, increased levels of insulin can stimulate tumors to grow.
Take home message? Eat your carbohydrates from whole real foods – fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, and avocados. If you eat starches, eat limited amounts and stick to brown or wild rice, quinoa, buckwheat and other truly whole grains.