Eating almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts and cashews can significantly lower risk of cancer recurrence and mortality than those who do not, a study claims. In patients with stage III colon cancer, recurrence was reduced by nearly half.
Patients may not be eating nuts due to concerns about the high-fat content and that increasing nut consumption will lead to obesity, which leads to worse outcomes, says study.
Researchers at Yale University Cancer Center in the US followed 826 participants in a clinical trial for a median of 6.5 years after they were treated with surgery and chemotherapy.
Those who regularly consumed at least two, one-ounce servings of nuts each week demonstrated a 42 percent improvement in disease-free survival.
“Further analysis of this cohort revealed that disease-free survival increased by 46 percent among the subgroup of nut consumers who ate tree nuts rather than peanuts,” said Charles S Fuchs, director of Yale Cancer Center.
Tree nuts include almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews and pecans, among others. In contrast, peanuts are actually in the legumes family of foods.
“Overall, we are working to apply the same rigorous science to the understanding of diet and lifestyles in the colon cancer patient population that we apply to defining new drugs,” Fuchs said.
“These findings are in keeping with several other observational studies that indicate that a slew of healthy behaviours, including increased physical activity, keeping a healthy weight, and lower intake of sugar and sweetened beverages, improve colon cancer outcomes,” said lead author Temidayo Fadelu, postdoctoral student at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
“The results highlight the importance of emphasising dietary and lifestyle factors in colon cancer survivorship,” Fadelu added.
The authors caution that the findings from their observational study do not prove that nuts improve colorectal cancer (CRC) outcomes; rather, they further support previous observations that a healthy diet and lifestyle can benefit patients with CRC.
Many previous studies have reported that nuts, among other health benefits, may help to reduce insulin resistance, a condition in which the body has difficulty processing the insulin hormone. The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.