A new study has found that foods having high glycemic index may not only increase your risk for type 2 diabetes (non-insulin dependent diabetes) and obesity but also make you prone to colon cancer. “High glycemic index” basically measures how fast and how quickly blood sugar increases after eating food rich in carbohydrates. Therefore, high glycemic foods are those that cause a fast and drastic rise in the blood sugar levels. These foods include bread, pasta, pancakes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, banana, mango, carbohydrates made from refined “white” grains, processed or sugary foods (such as cakes, pastries, cookies and other snacks).
The study was conducted in around 40,000 American women who were asked to fill a questionnaire giving details about their eating habits. The study group was followed-up for a period of 8 years to assess the incidence of colorectal cancer. At the end of the study it was observed that the risk of having colorectal cancer in future was almost three times more in women who consumed high glycemic food as compared to those who eat less amounts of such food.
According to the researchers these foods seem to initiate insulin resistance (i.e. the body does not respond to the action of insulin, a hormone that is produced in our body by the pancreas. Insulin is basically required to control the blood glucose levels in the blood). The researchers believe that insulin resistance (which is already a proven cause for type 2 diabetes) probably creates an environment within the colon, which is favorable for development of cancer.
The researchers say that although very few studies on this issue have been done till date to establish a strong link between colon cancer and high glycemic food, there is no harm in being aware about the glycemic index of the food you eat. As high glycemic foods are digested quickly they cause a rapid rise in blood sugar, which cannot be easily metabolized, therefore, it is best to stick to foods with low glycemic index i.e. foods rich in fiber (such as whole-wheat flour, bran, barley, whole grains and fruits with edible seeds, vegetables, legumes). Fiber-rich foods are slow to digest and therefore cause a gradual (slow) rise in blood sugar.
Apart from having a low glycemic load, high-fiber food is also rich in phytochemicals, which help in preventing cancer.