Sunday, December 18, 2011

"Starch Consumption Raises Risk Of Breast Cancer Coming Back"

So read the headline on a news story recently. A new study found as follows:
Breast cancer survivors whose starch intake is above average have a greater risk of cancer recurrence compared to other breast cancer survivors, researchers from the University of California, San Diego explained at the 2011 CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, Dec. 6-10, 2011. The researchers added that it is in particular starch that raises the risk, and not just overall carbohydrates.
Plausible. But it turned out that all the researchers did was interview the women once a year about their diet, and women whose breast cancer came back were eating 2.3 GRAMS of carbohydrates more than the average per day, only half of which was starch. As far as I can tell, that's about as much as is in 1 tablespoon of cooked rice. So the headline was based on women claiming to have eaten an additional 1 tablespoon of cooked rice (or some equivalent) per day.

This does not strike me as a useful finding. There is no way that a once-a-year interview can pinpoint women’s carbohydrate consumption down to the tablespoon, and such a miniscule amount of starch surely can't be making a clinical difference anyway.