We investigated gastric cancer risk in relation to dietary glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL), which represent indirect measures of carbohydrate absorption and consequently of dietary insulin demand, in a case-control study conducted in northern Italy between 1997 and 2007, including 230 patients with the incident, histologically confirmed gastric cancer and 547 frequency matched controls, admitted to the same hospitals as cases with acute non-neoplastic conditions. We used conditional logistic regression models, including terms for major recognised gastric cancer risk factors and non-carbohydrate energy intake. The odds ratios (ORs) in the highest vs lowest quintile were 1.9 (95% CI: 1.0-3.3) for GI and 2.5 (95% CI: 1.3-4.9) for GL. Compared with participants reporting low GL and high fruits/vegetables intake, the OR rose across strata of high GL and low fruits/vegetables, to reach 5.0 (95% CI: 2.2-11.5) for those reporting low fruits/vegetables intake and high GL. Our study may help to explain the direct relation observed in several studies between starchy foods and gastric cancer risk.