Processed Grains and Cancer

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Processed Grains and Cancer

A group of Italian researchers recently reported that consumption of whole-grain foods helps protect against cancer, particularly cancers involving the digestive system. The same researchers now report that foods based on processed grains, like pasta and bread, may actually increase the risk of cancer.

Their study involved 3,336 patients diagnosed with cancer and 3,526 people without cancer.

Based on food-frequency questionnaires completed two years before the diagnosis of cancer, the researchers conclude that people with a high consumption of highly processed bread, pasta and rice have a 60-per-cent higher risk of developing cancer of the oral cavity, pharynx, esophagus or larynx than do people who consume only one serving or less per day of refined cereal products. The estimated risk increase for stomach and colon cancer was 50 per cent and for thyroid cancer it was 100 per cent.

The researchers point out that a high consumption of refined sugar produces similar increases in cancer risk and Speculate that the detrimental effect of refined cereals is due to their rapid digestion. This tends to cause glycemic overload and a subsequent increase in insulin and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), which is known to stimulate tumor growth. The researchers also suggest that the substantial increase in thyroid cancer observed among frequent consumers of refined cereals may be due to the low iodine content of these foods.

The researchers conclude that replacing meat and fat with refined cereals in the diet may not have the intended effect of reducing cancer risk.

Article copyright Canadian Health Reform Products Ltd.

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By Hans Larsen

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