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Breast cancer and starch: Hold the pasta

BOOSTER SHOTS: Oddities, musings and news from the
health world

December 08, 2011|By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times / for the Booster Shots blog

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

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

For the starch study, the researchers looked at food recall interviews at baseline and at one year from 2,651 women.  They found that the baseline 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.

They noted, however, that the discovery called for more research into the benefits 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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