Tree nuts may lower risk of colon cancer, according to a new study to be presented at the 2017 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting.

According to American Cancer Society statistics, there will be over 95,000 cases of colon cancer diagnosed this year in the United States alone.

The new study shows that regular consumption of tree nuts may lower the risk of colon cancer recurrence following the treatment of stage III colon cancer treatment.

In the latest study, lead author Dr. Temidayo Fadelu, of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA, and colleagues aimed to find if tree nut consumption provided colon cancer benefits.

The study researchers analyzed data from 826 patients with stage III colon cancer. The patients were participants in a Cancer and Leukemia Group B, which started in 1999. All of these patients had completed chemotherapy.

The patients who consumed at least 2 ounces of nuts every week had a 42 percent lower risk of colon cancer recurrence and a 57 percent reduced risk of death.

However, with upon closer investigation, the researchers found that only tree nut consumption provided benefits. The colon cancer recurrence risk was 46 percent lower in those who ate 2 ounces of tree nuts per week, while the risk of death was 53 percent lower.

Peanuts or peanut butter consumption was not associated with colon cancer recurrence or death.

The authors concluded:

It should be emphasized that the authors are not suggesting that eating nuts should be considered a substitute for standard chemotherapy and other treatments for colon cancer, which have dramatically improved survival.
Rather, patients with colon cancer should be optimistic, and they should eat a healthy diet, including tree nuts, which may not only keep them healthier, but may also further decrease the chances of the cancer coming back.”

The study authors aim to dive further into how tree nuts affect colon cancer risk.

“Ultimately, we need to understand how nuts confer this protective effect, as well as possibly conduct a randomized, controlled clinical trial where diet recommendations are given at the start of the study to prove that tree nuts can reduce recurrence and death after treatment for colon cancer,” adds Dr. Fadelu.

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