Marshall University Study Finds That Walnuts Suppress Breast Cancer Growth And Alter Genes

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A study out of Marshall University shows that eating walnuts can slow breast cancer growth and cause cell death.

We all know that diet plays an important role in our overall health, and walnuts have been shown to be a great addition to a healthy diet. The nutrient-packed nuts are high in heart-healthy, Omega-3 fatty acids, and they’re also rich in phytosterols and antioxidants.

Walnuts have been studied before for a variety of different reasons. Previous studies have linked the brain-shaped nuts to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia, as well as better management of weight and metabolism, diabetes, and inflammation. They have also been shown to have anti-cancer properties.

Now research out of MU reveals that walnuts not only suppress cancer growth, but they actually change the tumor’s genes.

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The study was led by Dr. W. Elaine Hardman, a professor with the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, and published in the journal Nutrition Research on March 10, 2019.

The research that went into the study and the study itself took place over a period of several years. In fact, Hardman published research about the effectiveness of using walnuts to treat cancer in mice back in 2014.

“We’ve done a number of mouse studies that show when we add walnuts to the diet of the mice, their implanted breast cancers grow much more slowly,” Hardman said. “If we add chemotherapy, the response to chemo is better. We then wanted to do a human trial to see if any of this work would transfer to people.”

So they moved to clinical trials in humans.

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In the clinical trial, women with potentially cancerous breast lumps were recruited, and their lumps were biopsied. Then, they were randomized into two groups: one group ate two ounces of walnuts every day while the other served as a control group. In the meantime, the lumps were biopsied, and only the women who had cancerous lumps remained in the study.

Two weeks after the biopsies, the women in both the control group and the walnut-eating group had additional biopsies done of their cancer.

In those two weeks, walnuts had significantly altered 456 genes within the tumors, promoting cell death and slowing the growth of the cancer.

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It’s incredible enough that walnuts had that much of an impact on cancerous cells, but the fact that they had such a positive effect in only two weeks is jaw-dropping.

“These results support the hypothesis that, in humans, walnut consumption could suppress growth and survival of breast cancers,” Hardman said.

Next up will be a larger-scale study, which is necessary to confirm that walnuts reduce the growth of breast cancer or could even prevent it.

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C. Dixon likes to read, sing, eat, drink, write, and other verbs. She enjoys cavorting around the country to visit loved ones and experience new places, but especially likes to be at home with her husband, son, and dog.
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