Prostate Cancer & Sugary Carbs

Men take heed – stay away from highly processed carbohydrates to help lower your risk of developing prostate cancer.  That was the findings from a study led by Nour Makarem, a Ph.D. student at New York University tracking health records of 3,100 participants beginning in 1991 and analyzing their diet through detailed food frequency questionnaires. 

Study findings

Participants in the study had their diets tracked through detailed food frequency questionnaires.  Researchers took the information and categorized each participants food sources by using the glycemic index which is a number associated with a particular type of food indicating the food’s effect on a person’s blood glucose level.  A value of 100 represents the standard, an equivalent amount of pure glucose.

What the study revealed was that regular consumption of highly processed foods such as pizza, burgers, and lunch meat doubled the risk of developing prostate cancer.  Sugary beverages like soft drinks tripled the risk of developing prostate cancer. 

Glycemic Index influence

The glycemic index appeared to play a role as researchers found eating foods with a high glycemic index was associated with an 88 percent increased risk of prostate cancer, after accounting for multiple cancer risk factors.

The glycemic index is a system ranking food on a scale from 1 to 100 based on their effect on blood sugar levels.  It measures how a carbohydrate containing food raises blood glucose or sugar.  The foods are ranked bases on how they compare to a reference food – either glucose or white bread.  A high glycemic food raises blood sugar more than a food with a medium or low glycemic index.

Go with healthy carbs

An important part of the study was that the type of carbohydrate food chosen appears to have an impact on cancer risk.  Researchers remarked that the study showed a very strong association between certain foods and cancer, particularly prostate cancer. 

Men who chose more healthy carbohydrates usually with a low-glycemic index such as legumes, most fruits and whole grains tended to have lower rates of prostate cancer.  Healthy carbohydrates also known as complex carbohydrates to choose from include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, beans, lentils, and peas.  It was found that legumes such as beans, lentils, and peas were associated with a 32 percent reduced risk of all overweight-and obesity-related cancers, which included prostate cancer.

The study also revealed that men with the highest carbohydrate intake had the highest consumption of foods considered healthy carbohydrates.  This suggests that it’s the quality and not the quantity of carbohydrates that makes the difference. 

It was pointed out that the results only show an association and not necessarily a cause-and-effect relationship.  But, the findings do reflect results from previous studies which have shown that malignant cancer cells appear to feed on sugar making diets high in sugary refined carbohydrates to have a negative impact that may increase cancer risk. 

At this time, the American Heart Association recommends that man should consume no more than 9 teaspoons which is equivalent to 36 grams or 150 calories of added sugar a day. This is not counting naturally-occurring sugar found in fruits or milk.