Dietary glycemic index and glycemic load and risk of pancreatic cancer: a case-control study

Ann Epidemiol. 2010 Jun;20(6):460-5. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2010.03.018.


Purpose: Carbohydrates and dietary glycemic index (GI) influence the secretion of insulin and insulin-related growth factors and may play a role in the development of diabetes and obesity, both of which have been related to pancreatic cancer risk.

Methods: We examined the association between dietary GI and glycemic load (GL) and pancreatic cancer by conducting a hospital-based case-control study in Italy in 1991-2008 of 326 cases of pancreatic cancer and 652 control patients. Dietary data were obtained with the use of a validated food-frequency questionnaire. Odds ratios (ORs) and corresponding 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) were computed with the use of multiple logistic regression.

Results: GI was positively associated with pancreatic cancer, with ORs of 1.56 (95% CI, 1.06-2.30) and 1.78 (95% CI, 1.20-2.62) for the second and third tertiles, respectively, compared with the lowest. No significant association was observed between GL and pancreatic cancer. Consumption of sugar, candy, honey, and jam was positively associated with pancreatic cancer, whereas consumption of fruit was inversely associated.

Conclusions: In conclusion, the positive association with high GI, in the absence of an association with dietary GL, fruit, or total carbohydrates, likely reflects the positive association between sweets or refined carbohydrates and pancreatic cancer in this study population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blood Glucose*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / metabolism*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Glycemic Index*
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Risk
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Insulin
  • insulin-related factor