Eating Walnuts Doesn’t Just Stop Prostate Cancer, it Shrinks Tumors

By on July 20, 2013
Walnuts have long been lauded for its ability to reduce the risk of heart disease, but now a new study from the University of Texas says there’s another reason to eat up: It could reduce your prostate cancer risk.

The study, which was published in the journal Cancer Investigation, found that rodents which were fed a diet containing walnuts had smaller prostate tumors compared to rodents which ate a walnut-free diet.

It wasn’t a high amount either, say researchers: They say the rodents ate the equivalent of two ounces of walnuts a day.

“We found the results to be stunning because there were so few tumors in animals consuming the walnuts and these tumors grew much more slowly than in the other animals,” says Russel Reiter, Ph.D., the study’s senior author. “We were absolutely surprised by how highly effective the walnut diet was in terms of inhibition of human prostate cancer.”

This research strengthens evidence from a 2011 study that found that rodents fed walnuts had fewer (and smaller) breast cancer tumors than rodents which were not fed walnuts. Though at the time it was not possible to draw any steadfast conclusions on the efficacy of walnuts for cancer prevention–or treatment–this study may give scientists the ammunition they need.

“The data to date suggest that using walnuts on a regular basis in the diet may be beneficial to defer, prevent or delay some types of cancer, including breast and prostate,” says Reiter. “The walnut portion was not a large percentage of the diet.”

Details on the Walnut Study

The research, which was carried out in the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, Texas, utilized rodents to test out a new theory–could walnuts have a protective benefit against prostate cancer?

To test out this theory, researchers injected mice with cancer cells drawn from human prostates–and then waited for the cancer to manifest. Within a month, tumors began developing in the rodents. Separating the infected rodents into two groups, researchers then fed one group of mice a diet containing walnut powder. The other group received a diet which did not contain walnut powder.

The results? Walnuts definitely had a protective benefit against cancer.

“Three of 16 mice (18 percent) eating the walnut-enriched diet developed prostate tumors, compared with 14 of 32 mice (44 percent) on the non-walnut control diet,” says The website goes on to say that rodents who were fed the walnut diet also had smaller tumors–about one-fourth the size of the prostate tumors that developed in the control group. Not only did it help prevent prostate tumors, it appears to slow the growth of pre-existing tumors.

And these results were reaped with just a two ounce serving of walnuts per day–about the equivalent of two handfuls of nuts, say researchers.

But does this mean you should start eating walnuts in hopes of driving prostate cancer away? Not necessarily so, say researchers–though the results were remarkable, rodent studies still aren’t a good measure of how it would impact the health of humans. Still, you should consider adding walnuts to your diet, since these nuts also contain other benefits that can improve heart health and weight maintenance.

Readers: Are nuts a part of your diet? Why or why not?

New Study Shows Walnuts Reduce Cancer

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