Meat is often the bad guy linked to higher cancer rates: The World Health Organization says bacon is carcinogenic and red meats in general "probably" are, while grilling meats is linked to higher kidney cancer rates. But researchers out of New York University report in ScienceDaily that their latest study suggests it isn't just meat but highly processed "bad" carbohydrates (think sugary soft drinks and pizza) that are linked to higher cancer rates. They've presented their findings at the American Society for Nutrition Scientific Sessions and Annual Meeting, noting that the link is strongest to prostate cancer, which is nearly twice as common among men who eat "bad" carbs over "good" ones such as legumes and whole grains.
The longitudinal study follows 3,100 volunteers as far back as the 1970s, with participants regularly reporting detailed food questionnaires starting in 1991. All foods were categorized by glycemic index, which measures carbohydrate quality by looking at its impact on blood sugar compared to a reference food, as well as glycemic load, which measures both the quantity and quality of carbs in each item. Controlling for many variables, they compared these results to the participants' cancer rates. And while Popular Science notes that there are some holes in the study, including that 99% of the participants were Caucasian, the study is a "robust" one and will likely be followed up by additional investigations into the precise mechanism at play between carbs and cancers. (Bad carbs have also been linked to depression.)