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Starchy Foods May Boost Risk of Breast Cancer Recurrence
Date:12/8/2011

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Dec. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Increased consumption of carbohydrate-rich foods, especially starches, may boost the risk of breast cancer recurrence, new research finds.

Researcher Jennifer Emond, a public health doctoral student at the University of California, San Diego, looked at changes in the amount of carbohydrates, particularly starchy foods such as potatoes, that breast cancer survivors ate over a one-year period. Then she tracked the number of recurrences.

"Women who increased their carbohydrates and particularly their starch intake had a greater risk of recurrence than the women who decreased [it]," she said.

A link between a high-carb diet and a higher breast cancer risk has been reported before, but this new study focused particularly on starchy carbs, said Emond. She was scheduled to present the findings this week at the 2011 San Antonio Breast Cancer Conference.

Carbohydrates provide needed nutrients and energy, but some carbs are healthier than others. Refined carbohydrates, such as white breads and white pasta, contain more starch than whole grains. "We didn't pinpoint the exact foods," Emond said.

Emond looked at a subset of women who participated in the Women's Healthy Eating and Living Dietary Intervention Trial, which evaluated the effects of a plant-based diet for breast cancer survivors.

She divided the roughly 2,650 women into four groups, based on lowest to highest carbohydrate intake. She found that cancer recurred in 9.7 percent of those who decreased starch consumption the most compared with 14.2 percent of those with the biggest increase in starch consumption.

The women reported their carb intake at the start of the study and a year later. Carbohydrate intake was about 233 grams a day at the study's start. Those whose cancer recurred had an average increase in carbohydrates of 2.3 grams a day. Those who did not s
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