Tree nuts may lower risk of colon cancer recurrence, death

Danny Woods
May 19, 2017

Peanuts actually fall within the legume category and are cousin to well-known legumes such as peas, beans and lentils, Fadelu noted.

For patients with colon cancer who have had surgery, a healthy lifestyle or a diet high in nuts is linked with a lower chance of recurrence and death.

"It should be emphasized that the authors are not suggesting that a healthy life-style alone should be considered a substitute for standard chemotherapy and other treatments for colon cancer, which have dramatically improved survival". The benefit of eating nuts was consistent across known factors that can influence cancer recurrence, including patient age, body mass index, gender, and common genomic changes in the tumor. Among the 19% of patients in the subset who reported consuming 2 or more ounces of nuts per week, risk of disease recurrence was 42% lower and the risk of death was 57% lower.

Researchers advise bowel cancer patients enhance their survival prospects by upping their nut intake.

"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".

"We observed that nut intake was associated with significant improvement in disease-free survival and overall survival in this patient population of stage III colon cancer patients", said Temidayo Fadelu, MD, presenting the findings during a presscast May 17 in advance of the 2017 ASCO Annual Meeting.

New research shows that eating certain types of nuts can decrease the risk of colon cancer recurrence and death.

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Cashew nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, and pecans are all tree nuts, and a number of studies have documented their potential health benefits. Researchers surveyed nearly 1,000 patients about their lifestyles, scoring them against recommendations in the American Cancer Society's Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines for Cancer Survivors. The volunteers, from 13 institutions, were evaluated over a period of seven years. These health conditions represent a state of excess energy and are each associated with a higher risk of recurrence and death from colon cancer. She's an assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco.

Patients should not read these studies and assume that they can avoid chemotherapy and instead treat their colon cancer with diet and exercise, warned ASCO President Dr. Daniel Hayes.

The numbers improved even more if patients also moderated their alcohol consumption, researchers found.

Researchers cautioned that the study was observational nature and did not prove cause and effect.

"That takes a lot of biases out of the classic retrospective, observational trials where patients are asked, 'Do you remember what you did several years ago?'" Hayes said during the press conference.

To read the Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines for Cancer Survivors, visit the American Cancer Society.

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