Low Carb Diets Boost Breast Cancer Risk

low carbs and breast cancer

High carbohydrate foods like potatoes decrease the risk of breast cancer.

Low carbohydrate diets with high intakes of red meat have become popular over the past few years. But questions surrounding their safety have continued to plaque these diets. We’ve discussed other research showing the low-carb high-meat diets increase the risk of early death and heart disease. Now we find that these types of low-carb diets also increase the risk of breast cancer.

Low-carb diets and breast cancer

A study at the Ontario Cancer Institute has found that lower intakes of carbohydrates increases the risk of breast cancer among women. The study followed 4,690 women for an average of ten years who had extensive mammogram density. They were randomized and split into two groups. One group reduced fat intake and increased carbohydrate levels. The other group had higher levels of fat intake. Both groups were monitored closely and their diets were measured periodically.

During the study period, 210 women had suffered from invasive breast cancer. The researchers found those women with higher levels of carbohydrates in their diet had lower incidence of breast cancer. They also found that higher weight levels were associated with greater incidence of breast cancer.

The research found no relationship between fat intake and breast cancer.

What are carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are found in plant-derived foods and ingredients. Carbohydrates can contain a host of nutrients and natural fibers. They also typically contain polysaccharides, monosaccharides, di-saccharides and oligosaccharides. They are also often referred to as starches.

Prior to refining, most carbohydrates offer significant fiber to the diet. Greater levels of fiber in the diet have been associated with reducing the risk of other types of cancer, including colon cancer. Greater fiber levels have also been associated with lower levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood. This is because fiber attaches to LDL cholesterol in the gut, preventing LDL release into the bloodstream.

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In other articles, we’ve discussed how plant-based low-carb diets are different than meat-based low-carb diets. That research shows that plant-based low-carb diets reduce the risk of diabetes and reduce bad cholesterol.

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Martin LJ, Li Q, Melnichouk O, Greenberg C, Minkin S, Hislop G, Boyd NF. A randomized trial of dietary intervention for breast cancer prevention. Cancer Res. 2011 Jan 1;71(1):123-33.


Case Adams is a California Naturopath and a Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies. “My journey into writing about alternative medicine began about 9:30 one evening after I finished with a patient at the clinic I practiced at over a decade ago. I had just spent the last two hours explaining how diet, sleep and other lifestyle choices create health problems and how changes in these, along with certain herbal medicines and other natural strategies can radically yet safely turn our health around. As I drove home that night, I realized this knowledge should be available to more people. So I began writing about health with a mission to reach those who desperately need this information. The strategies in my books and articles are backed by scientific evidence along with wisdom handed down through traditional medicines for thousands of years.”