In a large prospective study published online in the British Journal of Cancer*, researchers looked at the association between nut consumption and prostate cancer risk and mortality among 47,299 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. While nut consumption was not associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer, men who had prostate cancer and consumed tree nuts (almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts) five or more times per week after diagnosis, had a significant 34 percent lower risk of overall mortality than those who consumed nuts less than once per month (HR=0.66, 95% CI: 0.52-0.83, P for trend=0.0005).
"This is important," states lead researcher, Ying Bao, MD, ScD, from the Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, "since more men live with prostate cancer than die from it." Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed and second most lethal cancer for men in the U.S.
According to Dr. Bao, of the 4,346 men diagnosed with non-metastatic (cancer that has not spread from the place where it started to other places in the body) prostate cancer during the 26 years of follow-up, only about 10 percent died from prostate cancer. Roughly one third of the cancer patients died from cardiovascular disease and the rest from other causes.
Increasing evidence suggests that insulin resistance, a condition in which the cells of the body become resistant to the hormone insulin, is involved in prostate cancer risk and progression. Tree nuts have been associated with improved insulin sensitivity and reduced risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and total mortality**. Nuts contain important nutrients such as unsaturated fats, high quality protein, vitamins (i.e., vitamin E, folate and niacin) minerals (i.e., magnesium, calcium and potassium) and phytochemicals--all of which may offer cardioprotective, anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
"These findings add to the growing body of evidence showing that nuts can and should be part of a healthy diet," states Maureen Ternus, M.S., R.D., Executive Director of the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation (INC NREF). "During the summer months especially, tree nuts are a great, portable snack to take to the beach, on a hike, or camping," adds Ternus. "Just 1.5 ounces of nuts per day (about 1/3 cup) can have a positive impact on health."
The International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation (INC NREF) represents the research and education arm of the International Tree Nut Council (INC). INC is an international, non-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to supporting nutrition research and education for consumers and health professionals throughout the world and promoting new product development for tree nut products. Members include those associations and organizations that represent the nine tree nuts (almonds, Brazils, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts) in more than 40 producing countries. For more information, please visit our website at http://www.
*Wang W, Yang M, Kenfield SA, Hu FB, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC, Fuchs CS, Giovannucci EL, Bao Y, 2016. Nut consumption and prostate cancer risk and mortality. Br J Cancer. [Epub ahead of print]
**Bao, Y., J. Han, F.B. Hu, E.L. Giovannucci, M.J. Stampfer, W.C. Willett, C.S. Fuchs, 2013. Association of nut consumption with total and cause-specific mortality. N Engl J Med. 369:2001-2011.