Bread hit the headlines again this week when the Daily Mail published an article linking consumption of white bread with an increased risk of kidney cancer.
Researchers led by Francesca Bravi of the Institute of Pharmacological Research in Milan, conducted a study of 2,301 Italians, 767 of whom had renal cell carcinoma, the most common type of kidney cancer. Researchers blamed high blood sugar levels caused particularly by white bread.
This may be due to the high-glycaemic index (GI) of these foods and their possible involvement in insulin-like growth factors, they said. Bravi added: "We also suggest reducing consumption of refined cereals and increasing that of whole grain ones."
In Britain the FSA said the study does not change its advice to eat a balanced diet with lots of starchy foods such as bread - ideally wholegrain varieties. It said it acknowledges that some low-GI foods such as wholegrains "are foods we should be eating more of". The GI concept encourages eating these foods in place of more refined carbohydrates, in line with its healthy eating advice, it said.
The survey was published on 20 October in the International Journal of Cancer and the story was picked up by newspapers worldwide, including The Times of India and The Toronto Daily News in Canada. "Eating bread can kill" was the headline in the The Statesman in Ghana.
Bakels MD Paul Morrow said: "This is one isolated statistical analysis. Scientists need to find out if there is anything behind what it suggests." Alex Waugh director general of the National Association of British and Irish Millers said the study was flawed: "It is based on people’s recollection of what they have eaten over two years."
Evidence suggests that bread consumption decreases the chances of other types of cancer such as colon cancer, he added.