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Study: Breast Health Regimen Is Nuts—Literally

October 2, 2013
Written by: , Filed in: Breast Imaging
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Peanut butter, nuts, beans, lentils, and corn, when consumed during adolescence, may help protect against breast cancer later in life, according to a study published in the September issue of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.

Girls ages 9 to 15 who ate peanut butter or nuts at least twice a week were 39 percent less likely to develop benign breast disease, which is a breast cancer risk factor, by age 30, the researchers found. Co-senior author Graham Colditz, MD, DrPH, said:

These findings suggest that peanut butter could help reduce the risk of breast cancer in women.

Dr. Colditz is associate director for cancer prevention and control at Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, both in St. Louis. He was quoted in a Washington University news release.

The study looked at 9,039 girls ages 9 to 15 who were enrolled from 1996 through 2001 in the Growing Up Today Study, run by Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. During that period, they completed annual questionnaires detailing what they ate. From 2005 through 2010, when the study participants were 18 to 30 years old, they were asked whether they had been diagnosed with benign breast disease that was confirmed by breast biopsy.

The study suggested that beans, including soybeans, as well as lentils and corn might also help prevent benign breast disease. But the study participants consumed much less of those, so the evidence was weaker. The researchers said even girls with a family history of breast cancer had a significantly lower risk of breast disease if they consumed the foods in question.

Previous studies have also linked consumption of peanut butter, nuts, and vegetable fat to a lower risk of benign breast disease. But they asked participants to recall years later what they ate in high school. This is the first study to use contemporaneous reports of food consumption.

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Related CME seminar (up to 24 AMA PRA Category 1 credits™): Chicago International Breast Course and The Society for the Advancement of Women’s Imaging

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