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Starch Increases Chance of Breast Cancer Recurrence: Research

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It has now been confirmed through research that a high intake of starchy foods increases the chance of breast cancer to recur in breast cancer survivors. The results of the research project known as Women’s Healthy Eating and Living (WHEL) Dietary Intervention Trial were presented at the 2011 CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

Some foods that contain a high percentage of starch in them are white rice, pasta, macaroni, potato, sweet potato/yam, cornmeal, ready-to-eat corn cereals, corn flour, wheat flour, spaghetti, and commercially prepared breads. (1)

Jennifer A. Emond, M.S. who is a public health doctoral student at the University of California, San Diego even goes on to point that it is not just carbohydrates as a whole, but starch in particular that pegs the risk. An increase in intake in just one year would make women who are breast cancer survivors more likely to have a recurrence of their disease.

The research enrolled 3,088 women, all of who were breast cancer survivors. Out of these women participants 2, 651 were put on the plant-based intervention. The study with its observation and follow up went for a period of 7 years. This subset of women were examined for how changes in their carbohydrate intake influenced breast cancer recurrence. (2)

The dietary intake of carbohydrates were taken for these women at the year of commencement of the project and then again after a period of one year. During the baseline year the average intake of carbohydrate was 233 grams per day.

Results showed that women whose cancer recurred had a mean increase in carbohydrate intake of 2.3 grams per day during the first year, while women whose cancer did not recur reported a mean decrease of 2.7 grams per day during the first year. (3)

It was surprisingly observed that of the change in carbohydrate intake by the participants, a good 48 percent was accounted for by change in the starch intake.

After making necessary calculations and adjustments, the researchers found that the rate of an additional breast cancer event was 9.7 percent among women who decreased their starch intake the most during one year. This was as compared with an event rate of 14.2 percent among women who increased their starch intake the most during one year.

This change in starch intake was independent of dietary changes that happened in the intervention arm of the project (i.e the subset of 2651 breast cancer survivors). (4)

After further analysis was conducted on the results and patients were divided as per tumor grade, it was found that the risk was particularly high for women with low-grade tumors. This points to a requirement of further investigations on dietary advice given by doctors to breast cancer survivors on their starch intake post-treatment.


1. Foods Highest In Starch; Self Nutrition Data; December, 2011; http://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-000007000000000000000.html

2. Starch Intake May Influence Risk for Breast Cancer Recurrence; American Association For Cancer research; December, 2011; http://www.aacr.org/home/public--media/aacr-in-the-news.aspx?d=2654

3. Starch intake may influence risk for breast cancer recurrence; Eureka Alert!; December, 2011;

4. Starch intake may influence risk for breast cancer recurrence; SABCS 2011; ecancer News; December 2011;



Mamta Singh is a published author of the books Migraines for the Informed Woman – Tips From A Sufferer: ISBN: 978-81-291-1517-1 (Publisher: Rupa & Co. URL: http://www.amazon.com/Migraines-Informed-Woman-Tips-Sufferer/dp/8129115174/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1298990756&sr=1-2), Mentor Your Mind – Tested Mantras For The Busy Woman: ISBN: 978-81-207-5973-2 (Publisher: Sterling Publishers; URL: http://www.sterlingpublishers.com/search_result.asp) and the upcoming The Urban Woman’s Integrated Fitness Guide (Publisher: Hay House India).

She is also a seasoned business, creative and academic writer. She is a certified fitness instructor, personal trainer and sports nutritionist through IFA, Florida USA. Mamta is an NCFE-certified Holistic Health Therapist SAC Dip U.K. She is the lead writer and holds Expert Author status in many well-received health, fitness and nutrition sites.

She runs her own popular blogs on migraines in women and holistic health. Mamta holds a double Master's Degree in Commerce and Business. She is a registered practitioner with the UN recognised Art of Living Foundation. Please visit www.mamtasingh.com

Reviewed January 2, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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