We all know that bad habits like smoking can often lead to lung cancer. In fact, in our culture, the association between lung cancer and tobacco is so strong that we often forget that there are other causes of this disease. We’re usually surprised when we hear about a nonsmoker getting lung cancer, as if it’s some kind of anomaly.
In truth, there’s more to it than just “abuse this one organ and it’ll fall apart.” Our diets play a much bigger role in our long-term health. You could live a squeaky clean life without any addictions or vices, and still have cancer if you don’t eat the right foods. And since the food we eat affects every cell in our bodies, a poor diet can fuel cancer in any organ.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to find that science has just discovered a new link to lung cancer in nonsmokers, and it has everything to do with what these otherwise healthy people eat.
Could lung cancer be one of those malignancies? Dr. Xifeng Wu, chair of cancer prevention at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, conducted the new study to help answer that question.
Her team looked at the health and dietary histories of more than 1,900 people with lung cancer and more than 2,400 people without the disease.
The investigators looked specifically at the intake of foods with a high glycemic index, such as the white bread and potatoes cited by Jain.
Overall, people who registered in the top fifth in terms of a high-glycemic diet had a 49 percent greater risk of developing lung cancer versus those in the bottom fifth, Wu’s team reported.
And when the researchers focused solely on people who never smoked, the link was even more compelling. Those who had the highest glycemic diet were more than twice as likely to get lung cancer as those who had the lowest glycemic index scores.
Dr. Wu made it clear that the study wasn’t 100% conclusive. It’s likely that there are other factors involved. People who eat a high glycemic diet are also more likely to have diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, all of which can contribute to cancer. Just having a high insulin resistance can do the trick. But regardless of whether or not these factors are involved, the result is the same. Some high carb foods can really mess you up.
And it makes a lot of sense. These high glycemic foods often have an effect on your body that is similar to eating candy and drinking soda. And as we all know, sugary processed foods fuel cancer growth.
We often think that there’s a big difference between foods that are laced with simple sugars, and those that are filled with complex carbohydrates, and we assume that the latter of the two is safer because those carbs are digested and broken down into sugar at a much slower rate. However, it isn’t always that simple. Milk is loaded with simple sugars in the form of lactose, but is low on the glycemic index, whereas potatoes with their abundance of complex carbs, are ranked very high on the index.
So if you want to stay healthy, do some research on your diet, find out which foods are high on the glycemic index, and consider cutting back on them (though many of them are still good for you in moderation). You might just be surprised to find that your healthy diet, isn’t so healthy after all.