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Sep 12, 2011

Daily Handful of Walnuts Lowers Breast Cancer Risk

Researchers from Marshall University in West Virginia have found that small amounts of walnuts eaten daily significantly lowers the risk of breast cancer in mice.  The study, published in Nutrition and Cancer, looked at the influence of a typical diet compared with a walnut-enhanced diet throughout the entire lifespan.  This included what mice ate directly as well as what they got from their mothers from the period of conception through weaning.  An amount of 2 ounces per day is the human equivalent to what test mice were fed in the study.    

In the group with regular walnut consumption, development of breast cancers occurred at less than half the rate compared with the group eating the typical diet. Tumor number and size were also significantly smaller in the walnut group.   Lead researcher, Elaine Hardman, Ph.D., expressed how especially important these findings are considering how the mice in this study were genetically predisposed to develop breast cancer tumors.  “We were able to reduce the risk for cancer even in the presence of a preexisting genetic mutation.”

Whether the cancer prevention benefits in this study were due to additions or deletions in the diet are not known.  Including healthy dietary fats from walnuts translates as a corresponding lower intake of unhealthy fats, but walnuts also contain numerous other ingredients known to be responsible for lowering cancer risk and cancer growth. 

Hardman points out the essential role that diet plays in health.  “Food is important medicine in our diet.  What we put into our bodies makes a big difference -  it determines how the body functions, our reaction to illness and health.  The simple stuff really works:  eat right, get off the couch, and turn off the TV.”

Walnuts are a tasty food known to be a rich in health-promoting nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and protein.  By incorporating just 2 ounces (or about 14 halves) of this superfood into your diet each day, you can dramatically lower your risk of breast cancer!

Dr. Shana McQueen