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High Sugar Diet May Increase Cancer Risk by 78%

Researchers with the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research in Milan have identified yet another reason to eat less sugary foods; they may increase the risk of developing pancreatic cancer.

The researchers published their findings in the February 2010 issue of the Journal Annals of Epidemiology.

The study included almost 1,000 Italian adults with and without pancreatic cancer.

The researchers had the participants fill out detailed surveys on their lifestyle and dietary habits. Each of the participants with pancreatic cancer was then compared to two healthy participants of the same sex and age.

The researchers found that one-third of participants with the highest-glycemic index diets were 78% more likely to have pancreatic cancer than the third with the lowest-glycemic index diets.

This association remained true even after the researchers accounted for certain other factors, including weight, smoking history, and diabetes.

Glycemic index refers to how rapidly a food causes blood sugar to rise. Foods like white bread, potatoes and sweets are considered high-glycemic index foods because they tend to spur a quick elevation in blood sugar.

The researchers also looked at certain sources of carbohydrates, including fruit and sugary processed carbohydrates. Higher consumption of fruit was associated with a lower risk of pancreatic cancer while higher consumption of sugary carbohydrates was associated with a higher risk.

Although pancreatic cancer is a relatively uncommon form of cancer it is one of the most deadly. Only 5% of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer live past 5 years.

These findings show that reducing the risk of pancreatic cancer may be yet another reason to stay away from foods with a high glycemic index like sugar, candy, honey, and jam.

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