Eating Nuts Daily Can Cut Colon Cancer Recurrence Risk

Eating tree nuts in conjunction with an overall healthy diet and regular exercise can benefit colon cancer survivors on many levels, an observational study found.

The study suggests that eating certain kinds of tree nuts, such as almonds, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts and cashews, can prevent the risk of a colon cancer recurrence.

Researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston found in their study that weekly consumption of at least two ounces of tree nuts, equivalent to roughly 48 almonds or 36 cashews, significantly reduced colon cancer survivors’ risk to have their cancer return or to die from their cancer.

For the research, lead study author Dr. Temidayo Fadelu, a clinical fellow in medicine at Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and colleagues studied the diet pattern of 826 stage 3 colon cancer patients who had underwent surgery and chemotherapy to treat their condition and were already a part of a clinical trial.

Stage 3 colon cancer is a stage of cancer in which the cancer has spread to one or more nearby lymph nodes but not spread to other parts of the body.

The results showed that the participants who ate more than two ounces, or 57 grams, of nuts every week were about 42 percent less likely to get a cancer recurrence and had 57 percent lower chance of cancer-related death than those who did not eat tree nuts after completion of their treatment.

Conversely, peanuts and widely consumed peanut butter did not appear to significantly cut risk of colon
cancer recurrence.

“Numerous studies in the fields of heart disease and diabetes have shown the benefits of nut consumption, and we felt that it was important to determine if these benefits could also apply to colorectal cancer patients,” said Dr. Fadelu.

“Patients with advanced disease who benefit from chemotherapy frequently ask what else they can do to reduce their chances of recurrence or death, and our study is an important contribution to the idea that modifying diet and physical activity can be beneficial,” Dr. Fadelu affirmed.

The researchers however cautioned that their study was observational and did not prove cause and effect.

Dr. Fadelu’s study was funded by the National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes of Health and Pfizer Inc. and released ahead of the upcoming American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting to be held next month in Chicago.

A separate study involving 992 colon cancer patients whose cancer had not spread to any other organ of the body revealed Wednesday that following a Mediterranean diet and exercising regularly reduced the participants’ risk of dying prematurely by up to 42 percent and also cut their risk of colon cancer recurrence.