Two new studies shed light on food and its impact on health:
Older women who eat processed carbohydrates, especially starchy and sweet ones like French fries and white bread, may be at increased risk of a less common but deadly form of breast cancer. The study looked at 335,000 European women and found a link between high glycemic load and risk of developing specific breast cancers, namely “ER-negative” breast cancers. These cancers, which lack receptors for estrogen, are especially difficult to treat. The study hints at a potential risk factor rather than pointing to a strong causal relationship.
This new European study extrapolated information from a long running study that looked at these women and their nutrition factors, as they relate to cancer risk. Specifically when the researchers reviewed the data, they noted that among women in the top 20% of high glycemic load individuals, there was a higher prevalence of these less common cancers that also tend to have a very poor prognosis. Eating a diet that has a high glycemic load will cause substantial and constant secretion of insulin, and high insulin levels have been linked to certain cancers. The theory is that insulin may cause tumor growth. Most breast cancers are fueled by estrogen and are therefore more receptive to the current treatments available. Experts feel this correlation of glycemic index and aggressive breast cancers will inspire more research. Eating a less processed diet that has portion controlled servings of high fiber carbohydrates might reduce the risk described here for more aggressive and deadly breast cancer.
In another study, pregnant women who subsisted on low protein diets before and during pregnancy, birthed children who had a greater risk of developing hypertension as adults. Low protein diets seemed to instigate higher levels of maternal testosterone. In rats, these high testosterone levels, caused by the reduced activity of an enzyme that inactivates testosterone, reached the growing fetus and seemed to increase the susceptibility of developing high blood pressure. Researchers suggest that fetal programming, which describes the impact of maternal stress on a growing baby’s physical characteristics and long term health outcomes, is at play here. Elevated maternal testosterone is linked to complications in pregnancy like preeclampsia, as well as risk for polycystic ovarian syndrome in women. It is now possibly a risk factor for hypertension in offspring exposed to higher levels of this hormone during fetal growth.
Published On: August 24, 2012