Colon cancer survivors who ate at least two ounces (57 grams) of tree nuts a week - roughly 48 almonds or 36 cashews - were significantly less likely to have their cancer return or to die from their cancer than those who did not eat nuts, U.S. researchers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston report.
The finding is the latest to suggest a health benefit from eating nuts.
The researchers analyzed a questionnaire about dietary intake from a clinical trial of 826 patients with stage III colon cancer, a stage in which the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes but not other parts of the body. Patients with stage III colon cancer have up to a 70% chance of surviving three years after treatment.
All of the patients in the study had received surgery and chemotherapy to treat their colon cancers.
People who reported that they ate more than two ounces of tree nuts per week (about 19 percent of study participants) had a 42 percent lower chance of cancer recurrence and a 57 percent lower chance of death than those who did not eat nuts.
The benefit of eating nuts was consistent across known factors that can influence cancer recurrence, including patient age, body mass index, gender, and common genomic changes in the tumor.
The protective effects of nuts applied only to tree nuts, not peanuts or peanut butters. This may be because peanuts are legumes, which may have a different metabolic composition than tree nuts, the lead researcher said.
The team focused on nut consumption because prior studies have shown that eating nuts can reduce the risk of obesity and diabetes, factors that also influence the risk of recurrence and death from colon cancer.
Source: American Society of Clinical Oncology, May 17, 2017.
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