Cancerous Carbs… Are Carbs The New Cigarettes?

Do you enjoy eating a bagel every day? Do you like having a ‘carb-packed-diet’? Or maybe you are just one of those people, like myself, that can’t get enough of those delicious baked goods? You know what, I would think twice. A recent study has shown that high GI foods (processed carbs) are linked with lung cancer.

A plate of delicious bagels. Image credit: bagels! By Kathy via Flickr


As I sat down for breakfast this morning, I was accompanied with my perfectly cream-cheesed and avocado bagel looking deliciously at me. I thought to myself how lucky I am to have this amazing meal in front of me.

I then realised that surely having a bagel at least once a day couldn’t be healthy. So I jumped on to my computer and did some research. To my shock-horror I found that carbs can in fact be… cancerous. Yes, that’s right… CANCEROUS!!!!!


How, you ask?

A recent study in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention indicated that glucose and insulin responses are linked with carcinogenesis (the process that initiates cancer development). This means that as carbs are the main cause for blood sugar levels to spike as they release insulin after eating, this can cause an abnormal growth in cells leading to cancer.

A diet with a high glycemic index (GI), which is an indication for the carbohydrate intake in the body, results in amplified lung cancer risks. As Cynthia Sass from Health mentions, the risk increases by 49% in individuals who eat a lot of processed carbs.

High GI foods can also lead to increased risk of diabetes and heart disease even if you are not normally a person who is at risk.


Do I have to stop eating what I love?

But do not be alarmed! You don’t have to completely stop carbs but refined, processed carbohydrates tend to cause blood sugar levels to surge. These include; white rice, sugary drinks, snack foods like pretzels, white bread and white flour, bagels and baked treats.

The key is to moderate. The moral of the story is to ensure these types of carbs, that have been wiped clean of their nutrition and fibre, are avoided as much as possible.

I understand it’s hard to cut this out of your diet so as long as you are balancing these carbs with healthier foods and exercise your risk is a lot lower than 49%.



A study from the Oral Cancer Foundation has revealed that what we eat should be filled with colour! Purple berries, green spinach, orange carrots, red tomatoes, yellow bananas and the list goes on. Even canned veggies and fruits are just as good as they have the same nutritional value!

They are vitamins and minerals that help fight cancer. They are protective agents.

Alternatives to cancerous carbs… vegetables. Image credit: Basket of Veg by MICOLO J via Flickr


We should also be eating healthier carb options. Here are some ideas: starchy veggies, whole grains, beans and lentils, brown rice, quinoa, popcorn, peas and corn.


A happy ending:

On the plus side, this research has sparked interest amongst fellow scientists as well as the general public.

Understanding what is going on in this situation will help other researchers to explore the role that high GI foods have on the body. This will create further ideas and will better help prevention and treatment of lung cancer.

It has also motivated the general public to eat healthier and live a better life-style. Are you inspired? I know I am… I have my eye on that banana sitting right in front of me for breakfast tomorrow instead.


More links for interested readers:







9 Responses to “Cancerous Carbs… Are Carbs The New Cigarettes?”

  1. Raveena Grace says:

    Thank you so much everyone for your comments, I really enjoyed writing this and I’m glad you all found it informative.
    Thanks Nancy, I definitely wanted to put a positive spin on the article by providing alternatives as solutions.
    And I completely understand Christina… it’s so hard to stop so the key is to balance 🙂
    I love popcorn so I definitely agree James.

  2. iwallace says:

    Such an interesting post! Everyone is aware of the risks of smoking, however I feel that there is less education regarding what we consume. I really enjoyed reading

  3. Raveena Grace says:

    I do agree Thaddad, though the 49% is a possibility for people with diets that are full of refined and processed carbs so I definitely agree with not cutting out these carbs completely but rather balancing your diet, looking at healthier options and exercising.

  4. thaddad says:

    I think that paper’s conclusion is very alarmist. A significant, 49% increased risk of lung cancer in *healthy*, low-risk patients is no where near as bad as it sounds. Any increased risk of lung cancer in healthy individuals will be statistically significant.

    Furthermore, it is a relative increase of risk of 49% rather than absolute. The Australian Cancer council is telling me that the risk of receiving a cancer diagnosis in 2017 ranges between 1 in 13 and 1 in 22 depending on gender. Say we average it out to a 1 in 19 risk, a 49% increase brings that up to about 3 in 40. However, this is the risk of ALL Australians developing lung cancer by the age of 85, so that increase in risk is actually far, far lower in accordance with this paper’s findings.

    At the end of the day, eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly would probably be far better than completely cutting out a macronutrient to stave off cancer!

  5. James Spyrou says:

    Scary! I like how you included some healthier carb alternatives. It’s good to know that popcorn might be less bad for you than white rice! Great work!

  6. Jennifer Feinstein says:

    Interesting! I learned something new. Also appreciated that you got straight to the point.. I was engaged the whole time. Great job!

  7. smisev says:

    Good job! Your headline drew me in. Very interesting article and will remind me to rethink my 3pm sugary carb fix this afternoon. Thank you!

  8. Christina Hatzis says:

    Good post. As an ex-smoker who doesn’t drink coffee or partake in many other vices, the only way you’ll make me stop eating refined carbs is if you pry them from my cold, dead hands!

  9. Nancy Rivers Tran says:

    Great work!!! Very entertaining and informative. I love how you presented both the problem and the solution at the same time. Keep up the good work!!