`Low GI diet may reduce risk of cancer`

Updated: Jan 16, 2012, 12:51 PM IST

Melbourne: Cancer cells thrive on glucose, so eating a low glycaemic index (GI) diet or food rich in slowly digested carbohydrates may reduce risk of tumours, an Australian researcher has claimed.

Jennie Brand-Miller of University of Sydney said a review of 10 studies shows eating a high GI (glycemic index) diet for five years or more may increase the risk of breast cancer by eight per cent compared with a low GI diet.

"With the average Australian diet consisting of far too many high GI foods, this is a major cause for concern," Australian Associate Press (AAP) quoted Brand-Miller as saying.

The review found the most consistent dietary factor was the glycemic index, she said.

"This makes sense because high GI diet produces high glucose and insulin levels and that is relevant in the case of any cancer because cancer cells thrive on glucose.

"It is like adding fertiliser. If you have a breast cancer cell it is encouraged to grow by high levels of insulin."

Brand-Miller said there are uncontrollable risk factors for breast cancer such as genetics, menopause and family history, but lifestyle-related risk factors can be changed.

This means not drinking too much alcohol, avoiding high-fat diets, eating less highly processed meat and reducing body fat.

She said that she believed eating a low GI diet can help prevent cancer by reducing body fat and insulin levels.

"Secondly, some breast cancer cells positively thrive on estrogen. Body fat manufactures and releases estrogen which can aid the spread of breast cancer. Overweight women are more likely to have breast cancer for this reason."

She said there have been lots of mixed messages put out about good eating.

Urging people to follow a low-fat diet was both too simplistic and "old school" because some fats - like in nuts and avocados - are good for us, she said.

"It is about moderation," she said adding the easiest way to find healthy low GI choices is to look for foods in the supermarket with the low GI symbol.

They have had their GI tested and met category-specific nutrient criteria.