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Breast Cancer

A Possible Link Between Carbohydrates and Breast Cancer

Limiting carbohydrate intake could reduce the risk of one type of breast cancer, researchers have found.

The findings, published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, focused on the cancer whose tumor tissue has the IGF-1 receptor.

“There is a growing body of research demonstrating associations between obesity, diabetes, and cancer risk,” said lead author Jennifer A. Emond, an instructor in the Department of Community and Family Medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College. “There…is some evidence to suggest that over-activation of the insulin/insulin-like growth factor…which increases the availability of IGF1, may relate to a poor prognosis among breast cancer survivors.”

In their study, the investigators examined carbohydrate intake reported among women who were part of a trial called the Women’s Healthy Eating and Living (WHEL) study conducted between 2001 and 2007.

“We found an association between increased breast cancer recurrence in women with a primary breast cancer tumor that was positive for the IGF1 receptor, which is consistent with other studies,” said Emond. “We further found that a decreased carbohydrate intake was associated with decreased breast cancer recurrence for these women.”

This is the first study to indicate that it could be possible to recommend personalized diets for breast-cancer survivors, based on the charactesristics of their primary tumor.

Emond cautioned, though, that further research needs to be done and that breast cancer survivors shouldn’t be concerned about dramatically reducing their carbohydrate intake.

“There are still many unanswered questions regarding this study, including what type of carbohydrate-containing foods may be the most important foods that breast cancer survivors should limit,” she said. “Breast cancer survivors should continue to follow a plant-based dietary pattern as suggested by the American Association for Cancer Research and the American Cancer Association, which means eating lots of fiber rich vegetables, legumes, and fruits; consuming whole grains and also limiting refined grains, starchy vegetables, and added sugar.”

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