Colon cancer patients who regularly eat nuts have been found to have lower risk of cancer recurrence. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States.
Cancer Recurrence And Mortality In Colon Cancer Patients Who Eat Nuts
In a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Charles Fuchs, the director of Yale Cancer Center, and colleagues followed more than 800 stage III colon cancer patients after their surgery and chemotherapy.
The researcher found that colon cancer patients who ate at least two 1-ounce servings of nuts per week showed 42 percent improvement in disease-free survival and 57 percent improvement in overall survival.
They also found that those who consumed nuts had significantly reduced odds for cancer recurrence and death compared with those who did not eat nuts.
"We assessed associations of nut intake with cancer recurrence and mortality," the researchers wrote in their study. "Diets with a higher consumption of nuts may be associated with a significantly reduced incidence of cancer recurrence and death in patients with stage III colon cancer."
Tree Nuts vs Peanuts
Further analysis of the results showed that disease-free survival improved by 46 percent among nut consumers who ate tree nuts instead of peanuts.
Peanuts are botanically legumes but they are often considered as nuts. They also grow underground while walnuts such as hazelnuts, cashews, pecans, walnuts, and almonds grow on trees.
Nuts And Insulin Resistance
Earlier studies have shown that nuts may help reduce insulin resistance. The condition can lead to unhealthy blood sugar levels and development of type 2 diabetes and other illnesses.
Colon cancer patients with lifestyle factors such as sedentary lifestyle, obesity, and a diet high in carbohydrates that increase insulin resistance and quickly elevate blood sugar levels are known to have worse outcomes.
"Behaviors that make you less insulin-resistant, including eating nuts, seem to improve outcomes in colon cancer," Fuchs said.
It is not yet clear what it is about nuts that make them beneficial. Nonetheless, Fuchs suggested that nuts may help satiate hunger even with less intake of food.
Other Benefits Linked To Nut Consumption
The findings add to a growing number of benefits linked to nuts. A 2016 study showed that men who eat tree nuts at least five times a week have 34 percent reduced risk of dying from prostate cancer. Another study showed that consuming nuts daily may lower risk of coronary heart diseases by 30 percent.