Background: Dietary carbohydrates vary in their ability to raise blood glucose and insulin levels, which, in turn, influence levels of sex hormones and insulin-like growth factors. We analyzed the effect of type and amount of carbohydrates on ovarian cancer risk, using the glycemic index (GI) and the glycemic load (GL) measurement in a large case-control study conducted in Italy.
Materials and methods: Cases included 1031 women with incident, histologically confirmed epithelial ovarian cancer, from four Italian regions. Controls included 2411 women admitted to the same hospital networks for acute, non-neoplastic conditions. Average daily GI and GL were calculated from a validated food frequency questionnaire. Odds ratios (OR) and the corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CI) were computed using multiple logistic regression.
Results: Ovarian cancer was directly associated with dietary GI (OR for highest versus lowest quartile = 1.7, 95% CI 1.3-2.1) and GL (OR = 1.7, 95% CI 1.3-2.1). The associations were observed in pre- and postmenopausal women, and they remained consistent across strata of major covariates identified.
Conclusions: This study supports the hypothesis of a direct association between GI and GL and ovarian cancer risk and, consequently, of a possible role of hyperinsulinemia/insulin resistance in ovarian cancer development.