Connection between grain-based foods and lung cancer
A study from the University of Texas found an association between lung cancer and glycemic index.

WASHINGTON — The Grain Foods Foundation expressed disappointment in a study from the University of Texas that found an association between lung cancer and glycemic index. The study in the March issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention involved 1,905 newly diagnosed lung cancer cases in non-Hispanic white people and a control group of 2,413 healthy non-Hispanic white people.

Glenn Gaesser, G.F.F.
Glenn Gaesser, Ph.D., scientific advisory board member for the G.F.F.

“This study is receiving attention because it is the first of its kind in the U.S.,” said Glenn Gaesser, Ph.D., scientific advisory board member for the Washington-based G.F.F. “However, there are major issues with the research given that important factors that contribute overall cancer risks, such as cardiovascular fitness, are ignored. Assessments of physical activity and full dietary habits in this study are weak. Furthermore, only the very highest glycemic index consumption pattern was associated with increased lung cancer risk. For 80% of the population, glycemic index was unrelated to lung cancer risk.”

The researchers divided people into five groups, or quintiles, based on their glycemic index and glycemic load. They found a significant association between glycemic index and lung cancer risk when comparing the fifth quintile to the first quintile. They concluded the study suggests dietary glycemic index and other lung cancer risk factors jointly and independently may influence lung cancer etiology.

Select members of the G.F.F.’s scientific advisory board reviewed the report. They found additional concerns about the study’s case-control methodology, the use of the glycemic index as a questionable measure of carbohydrate quality and loose association to increased cancer risk rather than the causation of cancer.

The G.F.F. also cited a March 8 blog post written by Ruth Kava, Ph.D., senior fellow in nutrition for the American Council on Science and Health, New York. The blog post on the University of Texas study carried the headline, “New Laughable Study Blames Carbs for Lung Cancer.” Scientists formed the American Council on Science and Health in 1978 with a mission “to provide an evidence-based counterpoint to the wave of anti-science claims that became the calling card of fund-raising groups who were using mass media to promote fear about topics such as food, energy and medicine.”