Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Walnuts May Prevent Breast Cancer

This is the week of the American Association for Cancer Research 100th Annual Meeting in Denver. One interesting piece of research that appeared at that meeting concerned the lowly walnut, and how it appears that walnut consumption may provide the body with essential omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and phytosterols that reduce the risk of breast cancer.

While the study was done with laboratory animals rather than humans, "People should heed the recommendation to eat more walnuts," said lead author Elaine Hardman, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine at Marshall University School of Medicine. “Walnuts are better than cookies, french fries or potato chips when you need a snack,” said Hardman. “We know that a healthy diet overall prevents all manner of chronic diseases.”

Mice were fed a diet that researchers estimated was the human equivalent of two ounces of walnuts per day. A separate group of mice were fed a control diet. Standard testing showed that walnut consumption significantly decreased breast tumor incidence, the number of glands with a tumor and tumor size.

Molecular analysis showed that increased consumption of omega-3 fatty acids contributed to the decline in tumor incidence, but other parts of the walnut contributed as well. “With dietary interventions you see multiple mechanisms when working with the whole food,” said Hardman. “It is clear that walnuts contribute to a healthy diet that can reduce breast cancer.”

No supplementation can match the power of a whole food like walnuts.


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