Bioethics Blogs

The Whiter the Bread March 15, 2016 A recent study suggests that a diet rich in white bread,…

March 15, 2016

by Sean Philpott-Jones, Director, Bioethics Program of Clarkson University-Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

As someone who grew up in Northern California during the 1970s, I was surrounded by all the fads of the New Age movement: past-life regression, crystals, channeling, EST (or Erhard Seminars Training), macramé, hot tubs, and the nascent organic food movement.

My mother willingly embraced many of these fads, particularly the organic movement. Our school lunch boxes were often filled with granola, yogurt and sandwiches on homemade whole grain bread the color and consistency of the macramé potholders that hung in our patio. It wasn’t until after my mother started working long hours as a real estate agent that we kids finally got the sorts of lunches we craved: PB&J or bologna sandwiches on Wonder® bread, with a Hostess Ho-Ho or Ding Dong as a treat.

If a new study out of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is correct, that much-ballyhooed switch from homemade wheat bread to store-bought white bread may have been a bad move, at least with respect to my lung cancer risk. That study looked at the link between diet – specifically a diet rich in high glycemic foods like white bread – and rates of lung cancer among non-smokers.

Lung cancer is one of the most common (and the most preventable) forms of cancer in the US. According to the American Lung Association, about 225,000 Americans are diagnosed and 160,000 die of lung cancer annually. The majority of these cases are directly linked to smoking.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.