An article appearing on June 9, 2016 in the British Journal of Cancer reports a lower risk of dying from any cause among men with prostate cancer who regularly consumed tree nuts.
For their research, a team led by Ying Bao, MD, ScD, of the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School evaluated data from 47,299 men enrolled in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Dietary data that was updated every four years over the course of the study provided information on the quantity of nuts consumed, which included almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts.
Over a twenty-six year period, 6,810 cases of prostate cancer were identified. Prostate cancer patients who consumed nuts at least five times per week following their diagnosis had a 34% lower risk of mortality over the course of follow-up compared with men who consumed nuts less than once per month.
Nuts provide unsaturated fats, high quality protein, vitamin E, folate, niacin, calcium, magnesium, potassium and phytochemicals, which have cardioprotective, anticancer, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, all of which could impact mortality risk over a given period. In addition to being associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and mortality over time, tree nut consumption has been associated with improvement in insulin sensitivity. Research suggests that insulin resistance is involved in the risk of prostate cancer and progression of the disease.
While nut intake was not found to be associated with the risk of mortality from prostate cancer, the authors concluded that “Frequent nut consumption after diagnosis was associated with significantly reduced overall mortality.”
“This is important,” noted Dr Bao, “since more men live with prostate cancer than die from it.”