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Sugar: A Risk Factor For Lung Cancer

Smoking is considered the most important risk factor for lung cancer. However, many people who have never smoked also develop lung cancer. So what else could lead to the development of lung cancer? Diet is rarely associated with lung health because of the preference to focus on things that are inhaled. It has now been shown that diet is very important in preventing lung cancer – and that an unhealthy diet, e.g. B. contains a lot of sugar, can promote lung cancer.

Lung cancer from too much sugar?

Lung cancer – it is said – affects smokers or passive smokers in 90 percent of cases. But what triggers cancer if someone never smoked and also did not smoke passively?

A new study by the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center has shown that diet can also contribute to the development of lung cancer. The research was published in March 2016 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, and represents the largest study on this topic.

For the lungs: fruits and vegetables instead of meat and dairy products

Study author Dr. Xifeng Wu said there is growing evidence that dietary factors influence lung cancer risk. For example, a diet high in fruits and vegetables would lower the risk, while eating red meat, saturated fats, and dairy products increased the risk of lung cancer.

The present study focused on the glycemic index (GI) of nutrition and its influence on the risk of lung cancer. Previous studies had already uncovered a link between GI and many other types of cancer. Could it also be responsible for lung cancer?

How high-sugar foods lead to cancer

The glycemic index is a measure of the quality of carbohydrates. The more a carbohydrate raises blood sugar levels, the higher the glycemic index. The highest possible GI for glucose (dextrose) is 100. White rice has a GI of 87, white bread is 73, brown rice is 55, wholemeal bread is 50, apples are 38 and peanuts are 14 – to give you a rough idea of ​​the world of the mediate glycemic index.

Eating a diet high in GI foods leads to high blood sugar and high insulin levels, which in turn messes with IGF levels. IGF stands for insulin-like growth factors because the substances are similar to insulin.

Their task, especially in childhood, is to stimulate growth. In cancer, however, IGFs also promote the growth of the cancerous tumor. Therefore, increased IGF levels in the blood are considered a risk factor for many types of cancer, including lung cancer. So, can it be said that a diet high in sweets, white bread, and other isolated carbohydrates is a cause of lung cancer?

High glycemic index: one of the causes of lung cancer in non-smokers

Professor Wu says:

“In our study, we observed a 49 percent increased risk of lung cancer in people with the highest GI compared to those who ate foods with a low GI.”

More than 4,000 people were examined. Half had lung cancer, the other half were healthy. Such a diet appeared to be a common factor in the development of lung cancer, especially among people who had never smoked. For smokers, a high-sugar diet increased the risk of lung cancer by only 31 percent.

Prevent lung cancer

In order to avoid lung cancer, not only does not smoking and an overall healthy lifestyle with lots of exercises and little alcohol help. The significant restriction of foods and beverages with a high GI also makes sense. High GI foods include sweetened beverages, candy, white bread, white flour baked goods, ketchup, beer, sweetened breakfast cereal, mashed potatoes, and baked potatoes.

In addition, one should reach for foods rich in fiber, as fiber contributes to a low risk of lung cancer, which we wrote about here: Fiber protects against lung diseases. Conveniently, high-fiber foods are also low-GI foods.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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