Posted on Apr 24, 2009, 10 a.m.
By gary clark
In a study of lab mice, Marshall University School of Medicine researchers have found that eating the human equivalent of a handful of walnuts a day, which provides the body with essential omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and phytosterols, can significantly reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Using lab mice that had been specially bred to develop breast cancer, researchers from Huntington, West Virginia conducted a study in which they fed one group of mice the human equivalent of two ounces of walnuts per day, while a second group was fed a control diet. Through molecular analysis, the researchers found that increased consumption of omega-3 fatty acids contributed to the decline in tumor incidence, but that other parts of the walnut contributed as well. "With dietary interventions you see multiple mechanisms when working with the whole food," says Elaine Hardman, one of the researchers working on the study.
In addition to finding that the lab mice who ate a daily diet of walnuts had fewer and smaller breast tumors, the researchers also found that the mice developed tumors later than the control group. As Hardman notes, "These laboratory mice typically have 100 percent tumor incidence at five months; walnut consumption delayed those tumors by at least three weeks."
Walnuts contain multiple ingredients that, individually, have been shown to slow cancer growth including omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and phytosterols. Furthermore, earlier studies have shown that walnuts are rich in compounds that reduce the hardening of the arteries and keep them flexible. "Walnuts are better than cookies, French fries or potato chips when you need a snack," recommends Hardman.
The study, which was presented at the recent American Association for Cancer Research 100th Annual Meeting 2009, adds to the growing body of evidence that omega-3 fatty acids can provide a range of health benefits, from preventing heart disease to lowering cancer risks.
News Release: Want to reduce breast cancer risk? Eat walnuts. www.reuters.com April 21, 2009