It is well-established that smoking is a major risk factor for lung cancer. In a recent comprehensive research study conducted, MD Anderson found a link between carbs and lung cancer. The research shows that high-glycemic foods on the Glycemic Index (GI), contribute to an increased risk of developing lung cancer even in non-smokers. The researchers observed a 49 percent increased risk of lung cancer among individuals consuming a high daily GI. Carbohydrates, like white bread, bagels & rice, elevate blood sugar levels, which stimulate perturbations in the Insulin-like Growth Factors (IGFs).
Risk of High-Glycemic Foods
High-glycemic foods (refined or white carbs) shoot up blood sugar levels and increase the amount of insulin in your body. A high glycemic index diet may be a major risk factor for developing lung cancer, as well as breast, prostate, and colon. When there is a high level of insulin, some cells, like fat cells, decide to store energy and cause obesity. Other cells, like lung cells, breast cells, and prostate cells, take it as a signal to grow. Raised insulin levels create a favorable environment for cancer to grow.
Glycemic Index: Types of Food and Carbs
Glycemic index is a number that differentiates slower-acting “good carbs” from the faster-acting “bad carbs.” Choosing a low-glycemic diet is essential for good health. They are packed with fiber & protein and cause slow & steady digestion, which won’t leave you hungry.
The smaller the glycemic number, the less effect the food has on our blood sugar.
55 or less = Low (good)
56 to 69 = Medium
70 or higher = High (bad)
Here is a list of high and low-glycemic foods, so you can know which foods to avoid, and which to favor.
High-Glycemic Foods: Index of 55 or Less
- Short-grain white rice, rice pasta, macaroni, and cheese from mix
- White potatoes, pumpkin
- Some fruits: bananas, grapes, cherries, watermelon
- Many breakfast cereals, including puffed rice, bran flakes, and corn flakes
- Instant oatmeal
- White bread, bagel
- Pretzels, rice cakes, popcorn, saltine crackers
Medium Glycemic Index Foods: Index of 56-69
- Whole wheat, rye, and pita bread
- Quick oats
- Brown, wild or basmati rice, couscous
Low-Glycemic Foods: Index of 70 or More
- Sweet potatoes, corn, yam, lima/butter beans
- Oatmeal (rolled or steel-cut), oat bran, muesli
- Legumes, including lentils, chickpeas
- Ezekiel bread, 100% stone-ground whole wheat, pumpernickel bread
- Pasta, converted rice, barley, bulgur
- Most fruits
- Non-starchy vegetables and carrots
- Skim milk
- Reduced-fat yogurt
- Sesame seeds, peanuts, flax seeds
- Beans (green, kidney, garbanzo)
Low-Glycemic Foods vs High-Glycemic Foods
You can have as much as you want from the low-glycemic vegetables (see the list below); actually, it helps you lose weight. High-glycemic carbohydrates like refined sugars are easier for the body to change into glucose than more slowly digested low-glycemic carbs like those in vegetables.
Vegetables Can Help You Lose Weight
So when you swap sugars with low GI vegetables, the body burns whatever energy is stored in the liver (glycogen) and then starts burning the fat stored on your hip, thigh, waist, arms, face, etc.
- Salad Greens – chicory, endive, escarole, iceberg lettuce, romaine, spinach, arugula, radicchio, watercress
- Vegetables – asparagus, cauliflower, artichoke hearts, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, broccoli, brussels sprouts, celery, cucumber, daikon, eggplant, leeks, lentils, greens (collard, kale, mustard, turnip), mushrooms, okra, onions, pea pods, peppers, radishes, rutabaga, squash, sugar snap peas, swiss chard, tomato, water chestnuts, zucchini, cabbage (green, bok choy, Chinese)
Stay Away From High-Glycemic Foods
Lung cancer kills more people in the United States than any other cancer, at about 150,000 people per year. We understand the link lung cancer has with unhealthy diets, obesity, and exercise. Now we dig deeper and realize that eating processed, high-glycemic foods, like white bread, bagels, and refined sugar, associate with a greater risk of developing lung cancer. It is so important to stay healthy and have positive eating habits. Low-glycemic foods are slower-acting, good carbs that include fruit, vegetables, fiber, and protein. Remember, you don’t have to smoke cigarettes to get lung cancer. Stay healthy and stay away from high-glycemic foods.