Diets dominated by high glycemic index foods have a high glycemic load. Numerous studies have investigated the association between high glycemic diets and breast cancer risk, with inconsistent results. Some studies have found an association between high glycemic diets and risk of breast cancer according to menopausal status or breast cancer type. The latest research finds association between glycemic load and breast cancer risk among Italian women.

Diets dominated by high glycemic index foods have high glycemic load

The glycemic index ranks foods based on their immediate effect on blood glucose levels. Glucose itself has a ranking of 100 and other foods are ranked in relation to it based on their influence on blood sugar. Glycemic load is calculated by multiplying the glycemic index, carbohydrate content, and intake frequency of individual foods. In studies measuring glycemic index and glycemic load, glycemic index values typically are assigned to foods consumed based on published figures. Glycemic load is then calculated by multiplying the carbohydrate content and intake frequency of individual foods consumed by their glycemic index.

Latest research finds association between glycemic load and breast cancer

The prospective study referenced at the beginning of this news article was designed to investigate the association between glycemic index and glycemic load and risk of breast cancer. The study included Italian women in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) who were followed for a median of 11 years. Levels of dietary glycemic index and glycemic load were estimated using data provided by study participants using a food frequency questionnaire and divided into fifths (quintiles). A total of 879 breast cancers (797 invasive and 82 in situ) were diagnosed during follow up.

Women in the highest quintile of glycemic load were found to have 1.45 times the risk of breast cancer as those in the lowest quintile. The results did not vary according to menopausal status or body mass index. No associations with breast cancer risk were found for dietary glycemic index and total carbohydrate intake. The authors conclude that, in a Mediterranean population with a diet typically characterized by high and varied carbohydrate intake, a high glycemic load diet can help promote breast cancer development.