Walnuts may help lower breast cancer risk

Saturday, September 03, 2011 by: Raw Michelle
Tags: walnuts, breast cancer, health news

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(NaturalNews) A new study conducted by a team of researchers at Marshall University, and recently published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer, has revealed that just modest, daily amounts of walnuts are sufficient to significantly lower the risk of breast cancer in mice.

To test the anti-cancer properties of walnuts, the mice involved in this study were genetically altered to develop breast cancer at an accelerated rate. The study evaluated the effects of dieting with and without walnuts, across the entire life-span of two tested groups of mice - one group was fed walnuts from conception to weaning, through the mothers, and later received walnuts directly into its daily diet, while a control group of mice was fed a regular diet, without walnuts.

Elaine Hardman, associate professor of biochemistry at Marshall's Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, who led this research project, firmly believes in the possible health benefits of foods, stating that "food is important medicine in our diet".

What we put into our bodies makes a big difference, it determines how the body functions, our reaction to illness and health. The simple stuff really works: eat right, get off the couch, and turn off the TV. The results of her study stand to support her claims: the mice that were fed small amounts of walnuts had developed cancer at less than half the rate of the mice that had been fed a regular diet.

Moreover, the test mice that did develop cancer eventually had much smaller and less frequent tumors, suggesting than walnuts effectively slowed down cancer progression, even where a genetic predisposition existed. Hardman trusts that the walnuts' high content of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and, more notably, cholesterol lowering phytosterols, is to be credited for these amazing results in mice.

Moreover, vitamin E consumption and breast cancer development seem to be inversely proportional - the more vitamin E the mice consumed, the slower their cancerous tumors developed. Hardman also added that the walnut amounts given to the test group throughout the trial would equate to roughly 2 ounces of walnuts per day for average humans.

While scientific studies such as this one cannot accurately determine whether the health benefits documented are a direct result of something that is added to the diet, rather than of something that is removed from it, Hardman reminds us that additional studies conducted in the past support her hypothesis as well.

Walnuts, especially when raw, have the highest content of antioxidants in all known nuts, in addition to other cancer-fighting substances. At a closer look, Hardman's research team discovered that the very gene activity of the test mice, who were fed walnuts daily, had changed significantly in several areas believed to be relevant to breast cancer development.

Although the information revealed by Hardman's study is, without a doubt, gladdening, other members of the scientific community are still skeptical regarding the extent to which such data is relevant to humans.

Numerous variables, such as smoking, pollution, physical fitness, and lifestyle, make accurate prognoses on humans very difficult, as deputy director of the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in Washington, D.C, Peter G. Shields observed, reminding us that while beta-carotene may fight against cancer in non-smokers, it is actually detrimental to the health of smokers.

Sources for this article include:

About the author:
Raw Michelle is a natural health blogger and researcher, sharing her passions with others, using the Internet as her medium. She discusses topics in a straight forward way in hopes to help people from all walks of life achieve optimal health and well-being. She has authored and published hundreds of articles on topics such as the raw food diet and green living in general. >>> Click here to see more by Michelle

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