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Walnuts May Help Keep Breast Cancer at Bay

Last Updated: April 21, 2009.

Study in mice finds fewer, smaller tumors in those that ate the nuts.

TUESDAY, April 21 (HealthDay News) -- Walnuts contain compounds that may help prevent breast cancer, suggest findings from a study involving mice specially created to develop tumors.

One group of mice was fed a daily diet that included what would be equivalent to 2 ounces of walnuts in humans, while another group of mice ate a regular diet. The mice that ate the diet with walnuts had a much lower incidence of breast tumors, fewer glands with a tumor and smaller-sized tumors.

"These laboratory mice typically have 100 percent tumor incidence at five months; walnut consumption delayed those tumors by at least three weeks," study author Elaine Hardman, an associate professor of medicine at Marshall University School of Medicine, said in a news release from the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).

Molecular analysis revealed that increased consumption of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and phytosterols found in walnuts contributed to tumor resistance in the mice. The findings were to be presented Tuesday at the AACR's annual meeting in Denver.

"With dietary interventions, you see multiple mechanisms when working with the whole food," Hardman said. "It is clear that walnuts contribute to a healthy diet that can reduce breast cancer."

Though the study was done with mice, she suggested that it's still a good idea for people to eat more walnuts.

"Walnuts are better than cookies, french fries or potato chips when you need a snack," Hardman said. "We know that a healthy diet overall prevents all manner of chronic diseases."

The study was funded with matching grants from the American Institute for Cancer Research and the California Walnut Commission.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about preventing breast cancer.

SOURCE: American Association for Cancer Research, news release, April 21, 2009

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