Diet is an important modifiable lifestyle factor which can influence risk of cancer, particularly cancers of the digestive system. It has been suggested that carbohydrate intake is one aspect of diet that might affect cancer risk, but research findings are mixed. This is not surprising considering that carbohydrates are found in a wide range of foods and drinks which differ in their nutritional value, dietary fiber content and glycemic impact.
The reasons proposed for the link between carbohydrates and cancer risk include impacts on blood glucose levels, insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). IGF-1 is a growth factor which can play a role in cancer growth, and studies have shown a positive association between IGF-1 levels and various types of cancer, including colorectal (large intestinal) cancer. In 2019, a group of Chinese researchers found out that highest GI diets had a higher risk of cancer of the digestive system compared to those with the lowest GI diets, although this finding only reached statistical significance for the cohort studies. They also observed a significant dose-response association, meaning that the higher the GI of the diet, the greater the risk. However, there was no association between total carbohydrate intake or dietary glycemic load and digestive system cancers.
With these recent case studies and results, it is safe to say that High GI diets are more prone to cause digestive system related cancers than the low GI diets. Low GI foods are digested and absorbed slowly. This slow release of glucose into the bloodstream is proven to be much more beneficial for the body – from improving energy levels to managing weight, diabetes and other health concerns.