freelance journalist, print journalist, online journalist, copywriter, content editor, freelance editor, health and lifestyle, blogger Bad news for the sweet-toothed | Christine Morgan - Journalist
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If white rice increases your risk for developing type 2 diabetes (see yesterday’s post, Rice not nice? Well, at least when it’s white…), then the other food you want to steer clear of, at least if you want to avoid getting pancreatic cancer, is sugar. I’m talking sweets, chocolates, non-diet fizzy drinks, cakes, biscuits… Everything many people  (myself included) are particularly fond of, in other words.

So what’s the story? According to Italian researchers, eating sugary foods increases your risk for developing pancreatic cancer. Right. And there’s an obvious link with yesterday’s white rice post. White rice is a refined carbohydrate, so it releases sugars rapidly into the bloodstream – as do sugary foods. And the sudden release of sugar into the bloodstream triggers the release of insulin – which, as you may know, is produced by the pancreas. We know that overworking the pancreas puts you at risk of developing diabetes – and now perhaps we should add pancreatic cancer too.

Anyway, back to the study (published in the Annals of Epidemiology, in case you were wondering). By quizzing almost 1,000 people, 326 of whom had pancreatic cancer, the Milan-based researchers worked out that eating foods such as sugar, candy, honey and jam was ‘positively associated’ with pancreatic cancer. Eating fruit, on the other hand, was ‘inversely associated’, which means it reduces your risk. But fruit is full of sugar, right? So how does that work? Well, fruit also contains things like fibre which slow down the release of its sugars in the body. At least, that’s how I understand it.

The other thing the study found was a diet that includes lots of high-glycaemic index foods (that is, lots of refined foods – think white bread, white rice and so on, plus all the sugary ones) may increase your risk of developing pancreatic cancer by 78 percent. There again, the chances of you developing pancreatic cancer aren’t massive to begin with – according to Cancer Research UK it’s the 11th most common cancer in men and the eighth most common in women (3,800 men and 4,000 women are diagnosed with it every year in this country). But if you’re one of the unfortunate people who do develop it, your prognosis is pretty poor – only around three percent of people with pancreatic cancer are still alive five or more years afterwards.

So maybe it’s worth giving up your daily chocolate fix and swapping it for a handful of blueberries then? Well, perhaps not every day…