So, Dr. Khiani, are you advocating people go on a low-carb diet?
Last week scientific researchers made the bombshell discovery that eating a high-carb diet can lead to kidney cancer. This week, we learn from this MedPage Today article even worse news regarding America's favorite comfort foods--consuming excessive carbohydrates can lead to the development of another kind of cancer, this time in the esophagus.
Lead researcher Dr. Vijay S. Khiani from the Cleveland, OH-based Case Western Reserve University and his team looked at esophageal cancer rates as reported by the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program during the nearly three decades starting in 1973 through the year 2001 as well as the average carbohydrate intake of Americans over the same time period as derived from a USDA program called the National Nutrient Data Bank.
While avoiding declaring any explicit link between carbohydrates and esophageal cancer, Dr. Khiani confidently stated that eating a carb-heavy diet can and will lead to obesity which then leads to a predisposition to the development of gastroesophageal reflux disease (aka GERD). Continuing the downward spiral, GERD increases the chance of the onset of Barrett's esophagus which is the very last step before the full-blown development of lower-esophageal adenocarcinoma or cancer of the esophagus.
Using linear regression analysis from both sets of information, Dr. Khiani said there was a "significant relationship between the incidence of esophageal adenocarcinoma and per-capita consumption of carbohydrates in the American diet."
He noted that in 1973, the average daily carbohydrate consumption in America was 400 grams. Nearly three decades later, the average carbs consumed each day jumped to 500 grams. This additional 100 grams of carbohydrates consumed by Americans directly correlates with the six-fold jump in esophageal adenocarcinoma cases--just 2,500 in 1973 to an average of almost 15,000 through the year 2001 and still rising.
Dr. Khiani revealed the results of his study at the American College of Gastroenterology 2006 Annual Scientific Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada this week in a presentation entitled "Ecological association of rising incidence of esophageal adenocarcinoma with dietary carbohydrate intake."
So, what high-carb foods are the biggest culprits according to the researchers? Cereal products, high fructose corn syrup, processed foods, and fast food staples such as hamburgers and French fries.
Unfortunately, Dr. Khiani and his researchers stopped short of pointing fingers at the root cause of the problem or offering suggestions about what to do with the information contained in his study.
You knew the question was going to come up and the video at the top of this blog post lets you hear directly from Dr. Khiani himself about whether this means people should go on a low-carb diet such as Atkins or not. Turn up the volume on your computer so you can hear what he has to say.
In a nutshell, Dr. Khiani believes his study does not promote "fad diets" such as "total carbohydrate avoidance" (like the zero-carb diet "The Bear" advocates) or even the more mainstream Atkins or low-carb diets that are out there advocating 20g daily for the first two weeks followed by up to 40-60g daily carbs for the weight loss phases and 50-100g daily carbs for weight and health management.
"We don't know at this point," Dr. Khiani explained. "Further research still needs to be done to determine whether there is a direct causal relationship" between carbs and esophageal cancer.
Why is it so painful for scientific researchers to acknowledge some positive news for livin' la vida low-carb? Don't you know if the study was about how fat or protein consumption led to cancer in the esophagus that the media would be coming out of the woodwork in promoting that study as cutting edge news that people should take to heart.
But there's been nary a word about this study and even the researcher himself is being kind of wishy-washy about the stunning conclusions it makes regarding eating a high-carb diet. I don't know about you, but it sure makes me glad I'm eating low-carb! :)
The final conclusion from the study confirms the truth about eating carbs.
"This ecological study provides evidence for the hypothesis that excess carbohydrate intake in the U.S. population may partially account for the increased trend of incidence rate of adenocarcinoma of the esophagus," the researchers said. "It is possible that obesity resulting from excess carbohydrate intake may be an intermediate link."
Ya think? People enjoying the healthy low-carb lifestyle have known eating excessive carbs can make you fat and now this study along with other research that continues to pour in shows it can be detrimental to your health as well. If Dr. Khiani won't say it, then I will.
GO ON A LOW-CARB PLAN ASAP! Do it not just to manage your weight if you are overweight or obese, but to ward off diseases such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome and, yes, even cancer as we have seen in two different studies over the past week. It's a decision you will NEVER regret, I promise you!
Dr. Vijay S. Khiani, don't be afraid of what science is showing you about the health benefits of limiting carbohydrate intake. As a scientist and researcher, you can't argue with the facts nor should you try to excuse them in any way. They are what they are and should be embraced and supported until future research confirms it. Be proud of the work you are doing that is supporting what so many of us low-carb advocates already knew--eating too many carbs can make you sick and unhealthy!
7-20-07 UPDATE: Although this is an older post, I am happy to share some extra information provided by one of my readers today about Barrett's esophagus and the onset of cancer. Here's what this astute and knowledgeable reader wrote:
Hi Jimmy --
Thanks for the great site. I can tell that you're committed to contributing to the health and well being of all of us, so you'd probably want to hear if there were something you were disseminating that might bear modification or correction.
"You will recall the researchers in that study found that eating a carb-heavy diet leads to obesity which can then lead to a predisposition to the development of GERD, which then increases the chance of the onset of Barrett's esophagus which is the very last step before the full-blown development of lower-esophageal adenocarcinoma or cancer of the esophagus. Yikes!"
Actually, from what I understand (and I'm not a doctor, but this is what I've heard), in order for Barrett's to lead to cancer, I believe there must be dysplasia present, that Barrett's alone does not necessarily lead to cancer.
Here's a web site you may find interesting.
"At the present time, the clinical management of patients who have Barrett's esophagus is based almost solely on the histologic readings of their endoscopic surveillance biopsies. Patients who have readings of 'negative for dysplasia' are considered to be at low-risk for developing cancer."
On another page:
"People who have Barrett's esophagus have a 30 to 40 fold increased risk of developing esophageal adenocarcinoma as compared to the general population. Still, the overall cancer risk in patients who have Barrett's esophagus is low. The results of multiple studies of patients who are being followed by a doctor for their Barrett's esophagus indicate that most patients with Barrett's esophagus (90-95%) DO NOT develop cancer during long-term follow-up. In addition, autopsy studies have shown that most patients who have Barrett's esophagus live their lives without ever developing Barrett's associated cancer and die of other causes."
I wanted to send this to you because I have no axe to grind. I just wanted to share the information with you because I fear, knowing the power of the mind-body connection, that people who read that Barrett's "is the very last step" before "full-blown" cancer might them cause it in themselves...
Thanks for the great work you're doing!
THANK YOU again for sharing these illuminating comments!