Eating over 50 grammes of tree nuts such as almonds, walnuts and cashews every week can more than halve the risk of death from colon cancer, a new study has found. Researchers at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in the US studied 826 patients with stage 3 colon cancer, who consumed two ounces or more of nuts per week. Findings showed that eating tree nuts including almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, and pecans, led to a a 42 per cent lower chance of cancer recurrence and 57 per cent lower chance of death. The benefit was limited to tree nuts, researchers said. “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,” said Temidayo Fadelu, a clinical fellow in medicine at Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
There was no associated reduction in cancer recurrence and death among patients who consumed peanuts or peanut butter. Being legumes, peanuts have a different metabolic composition than tree nuts, researchers said. Patients with stage III colon cancer have up to a 70 per cent chance of surviving three years after treatment, which typically includes surgery and/or chemotherapy. While numerous prior studies have looked at diet as a potential cancer prevention tool, this is one of the first in colon cancer to look at the role of nut consumption and its influence on recurrence and mortality, researchers said.
“Basic healthy eating can often be overlooked during cancer treatment. This study shows that something as simple as eating tree nuts may make a difference in a patient’s long- term survival,” said Daniel F Hayes President at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). “Nut consumption and a healthy diet are generally factors that clinicians and patients should perhaps pay attention to as they design the approach to treatment for colorectal cancer,” said Hayes. The findings will be presented at the 2017 ASCO Annual Meeting in Chicago.