Walnuts: Tough-as-Shells Against Breast Cancer

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Written By:
WholeFoods Magazine Staff
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Huntington, WV—According to a small animal study held at Marshall University, regular consumption of walnuts may help reduce the risk of breast cancer.

The abstract in the science journal Nutrition and Cancer explained that the experiment wanted to introduce walnut oils into the mice’s diets and then wean some of them off the original diet over time. The experiment showed a significant reduction of cancerous tumors within the mice that continued their walnut diet.

The ingredients in walnuts that slow the cancer growth are fatty omega-3 acids, antioxidants and phytosterols, say the researchers.

The Nutrition and Cancer article also explains that the tumors in the mice were already genetically inclined to grow at a faster rate. The changes walnuts make in the function of genes linked to breast cancer are analogous in mice and humans, so the results these doctors have gained from these mice could be applicable to humans (pending further definitive research).

Elaine Hardman, Ph.D., of Marshall’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and leader of the experiment, explains that she calculated the mice’s intake of walnuts to be proportionate to 2 ounces a day for humans.

In a separately funded study, Hardman and colleagues also tried to to compare the results from walnuts against other products with omega-3 fatty acids, specifically corn oil and canola oil. The diets of canola oil and walnuts fared better in inhibiting tumor growth than the control diet of corn oil, which resulted in the highest incidence of tumors.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, November 2011, online 9/27/11