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Hold the pasta: Starchy food linked to breast cancer recurrence

December 08, 2011|By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • Increased starch intake was associated with a higher rate of breast cancer recurrence, researchers said Thursday.
Increased starch intake was associated with a higher rate of breast cancer… (Anne Cusack /Los Angeles…)

This post has been corrected. See note at bottom for details.

Another reason to avoid the carbs: Researchers reported Thursday that increased carbohydrate intake was associated with a higher rate of breast cancer recurrence in survivors of the disease.

Starch intake seemed to be particularly influential, they said, accounting for 48% of changes in the women's carbohydrate intake.

"Women who increased their starch intake over one year were at a much likelier risk for recurring," team leader Jennifer Emond, a doctoral student in public health at UC San Diego, said in a statement.

Emond and her colleagues looked at data from the Women's Healthy Eating and Living (WHEL) Dietary Intervention Trial.  About 3,000 breast cancer survivors participated in an annual phone interview over the course of seven years, reporting to WHEL researchers everything they had eaten in the last 24 hours.

For the starch study, the researchers looked at food recall interviews at the beginning and after one year from 2,651 women.  They found that the initial carbohydrate intake was 233 grams per day.  Women who had a recurrence of their cancer increased their carb intake by 2.3 grams per day, on average.  Women who did not have a recurrence decreased carb intake by 2.7 grams per day, on average.

The increased risk was limited to women with lower-grade tumors.

The researchers said that the discovery called for more study of limiting starch intake in women with breast cancer.  The team presented its findings at the Cancer Therapy & Research Center-American Association for Cancer Research San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

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[For the record: An earlier version of this post referred to the Women's Health Eating and Living study.]

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