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April 2024
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Throat Cancer and its Link to Refined Carbohydrates

White bread A ‘Refined’ Palette of a Different Kind

In life, we often need to be reminded of why we do the things we do.  For example, we all know that eating foods high in fiber and low in fat help us avoid obesity and disease, thus increasing our chances of living a long, healthy life.  But there are times when we question just how important it really is:  Is it really THAT important to have wheat bread rather than white?  Does it really make any difference if I have white rice instead of brown?  After all, they’re both about the same in calorie and fat content.

I’m here to serve as that friendly little reminder of why whole grain carbohydrate choices are always better than refined carbohydrates.  Allow me to give you a brief history lesson: 

Before the refining process came along, food spoiled quickly.  But with the advancement of technology, the refining process made spoilage a thing of the past.  With refining, breads, cereals and rice could sit on store shelves for longer periods of time, ushering in the boom of supermarkets and their aisles of food choices.  This is all well and good, but it came with a cost.   Refining strips foods of vitamins, nutrients and minerals – the same nutrients that help the body turn carbohydrates into energy.  Without these vitamins, the energy conversion process halts, and carbohydrates are stored as fat.

Thanks to government intervention, foods once stripped of vitamins and minerals were replaced, or fortified, with vitamins and minerals like vitamin B, folic acid and calcium.  This fortification process helped alleviate the wealth of people dying from vitamin deficiencies in the early years of refining. 

Today, there are other health maladies associated with consuming vast amounts of refined carbohydrates, despite their fortification.  Obesity is the most common one mentioned, but others include diabetes, hypertension and heart attacks.  If that wasn’t enough, a recent study links the rise in refined carbohydrates to the rise in throat cancer diagnoses. 

This disturbing trend was discovered by a group of Ohio-based researchers, all affiliated with Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.  By looking at the rate of throat cancer diagnoses between 1973 and 2001 and comparing those with food consumption numbers compiled by the National Nutrient Data Bank, researchers found a “strong correlation” between throat cancer diagnoses and carbohydrate consumption.  

In addition to carbohydrates, they also found a correlation between throat cancer and gastroesophageal reflux, a disease characterized by an abnormal backward flow of gastric juices that affect the esophagus.  And it just so happens that gastroesophageal reflux – acid reflux disease for short – is strongly correlated with obesity and high carbohydrate intake. 

The specifics of how the researchers made these connections can be found in the American Journal of Gastroenterology

The researchers are reticent to make any broad-based conclusions about individuals’ likelihood of getting throat cancer and consuming large amounts of refined carbohydrates (you guessed it, more research needs to be done before that can happen).  Nevertheless, they and yours truly view the link as another reminder of why choosing whole grain carbohydrates over the refined kind is so important.

Related Posts

  1. Research Shows Spinach Can Help Prevent Ovarian Cancer
  2. A High Fiber Diet Can Slash the Risk of Breast Cancer, Study Finds
  3. Watercress Shown to Destroy Cancer Cells, Study Indicates
  4. Study: Among Obese, Cancer Risk Increases
  5. More to Gain from Whole Grain…

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