Evidence of how harmful certain carbohydrates (‘bad carbs’) can be to our health keeps mounting, and a recent study adds even more motivation to cut out those sugars that trigger the growth of cancer cells.
The study has shown that consuming foods dense with unhealthy carbohydrates can significantly increase the risk of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death in men from cancer-related illness.
Sugary beverages and processed foods are the most detrimental bad carbs to eat
Bad carbs refers to processed foods and sugary beverages known for their sugar and processed grain content. These foods have now been found to markedly increase cancer risk. Conversely, healthy carbs like vegetables, whole grains, fruits and legumes are increasingly associated with cancer prevention.
The new study shows that those who drink sugary beverages such as sodas and sweetened juices are three times more likely to get prostate cancer. A higher intake of processed foods like pizza as well as packaged burgers and meat sandwiches was found to double the risk of prostate cancer.
In contrast, eating healthy carbohydrates such as legumes, whole grains non-starchy vegetables (skip the corn and potatoes) and fruits seemed to help prevent cancer, reducing breast cancer risk by 67 percent.
Clearly, all carbs are not created equal
Part of the message here is that not all carbs are bad. In fact, the body needs carbohydrates for fuel and creates it when the cells and tissues convert glucose into usable energy. Carbohydrates help to fuel critical organs and systems like the brain, central nervous system, kidneys, heart and muscles.
However, bad carbs cause the body to flood with too much glucose which then needs to be stored as fat. It now appears that consuming these kinds of carbs also contributes to creating internal conditions that are conducive to the growth of cancer cells.
This recent study connecting bad carbs with prostate and other cancers was based upon health records tracking over 3,000 people since the 1970s. Foods consumed by participants were organized by glycemic index and glycemic load, which are measures of carbohydrate quality related to their impact on blood sugar levels. The foods eaten were then compared with resultant cancer rates.
The study ultimately found that persons who ate the most high glycemic load foods were 88 percent more likely to have prostate cancer.
Eating more legumes, vegetables and fruit will help to prevent cancer
The worst bad carb foods are sugary beverages like sodas and fruit juices as well as processed lunch foods. The sugars in these beverages are already considered a major cause of the diabetes and obesity epidemics in this country. Now they have been linked to an increased risk of cancer.
By contrast, study participants who favored low-glycemic index foods like vegetables, whole grains, legumes and fruits had a 67 percent lower breast cancer rate. Legumes in particular were associated with cancer prevention and a 32 percent reduced risk for prostate, breast and colorectal cancers.